Since revolutionizing my meal planning (see the article posted 2/6/07), I have also streamlined and greatly improved my grocery shopping. (I am one of those people who does my grocery shopping straight from the ads that come to my house. This sometimes requires me to go to three or even four stores to get everything we want/need! I know that may sound crazy to some of you (my husband included), but I really believe I save money this way, despite the exceptionally heinous gas prices.) Anyway, last month when I was in my meal planning frenzy, I devised a way to make my grocery list-making task easier as well.
To explain my new grocery list making technique, I first need to explain my recipe situation. My recipes are not housed on note cards. I like to try out different recipes from various books I have or things I find on the internet and then I type up the winners on my computer, print them out, and put them in plastic sheet protectors in a three-ring notebook. I like this method because my recipe book only has recipes in it that I know are keepers. The plastic sheet protectors do their job wonderfully! They protect the recipes from inevitable spills â€“ I canâ€™t bake anything without getting ingredients everywhere. I also have another recipe book from a class I took in college that has some really great recipes that I use frequently. I havenâ€™t typed up those recipes because I use that book so often anyway. The point is that my recipes are not in one centralized location, which results in my grocery list making process being somewhat laborious, with all the flipping through different books to find the recipes that Iâ€™ll be using that week and writing down which ingredients I need to add to my grocery list.
My solution to this problem was to write out all the ingredients of my most frequently used recipes on note cards. I didnâ€™t take the time to write out instructions, just ingredients. I keep all those note cards together and they serve a dual purpose. First, I use these cards to remind me what we like to eat when Iâ€™m planning our meals for the month. Second, each week when Iâ€™m making my grocery list, I pull out the cards for the meals I will be making that week and write down on my list any ingredients that we donâ€™t have. This makes my list-making so much faster and easier! I usually stick the weekâ€™s recipes in a magnet clip on the refrigerator in case I need to refer to them again.
I have found that creating my list this way has saved us tons of money on groceries! Before, I would just write down sale items from the ad that we typically like to have on hand and buy a bunch of groceries that I didnâ€™t really have an intended use for. This resulted in a moderate amount of wasted food and eating a lot of the same things over and over again. Since I began creating my grocery list from my superbly organized recipe cards, our monthly grocery bill has decreased by about $30-$50 each month. I still shop the ads and rarely buy food items that arenâ€™t on sale, but now we eat a better variety of foods, waste less, and save money!
Happy list making!