The biggest frustration for a family on a budget is forgetting the ever-important list at home. This usually results in a bout of yelling and blaming, followed by an attempted list-recreation while moving through the store. Generally, this causes an abundance of items, half of which are not even needed, ending up in the shopping basket. Not to mention blowing the budget out of the window and still having only partial ingredients to make any resemblance of a meal.
Shopping lists are only as effective as you make them. The rule for shopping lists is to make sure you look through all of your items, including the shelves where you stock the goods, to make sure you have written every last thing down.
The best thing to do for keeping a good list is to hang a piece of paper on the refrigerator to keep a running tally as you use up items. We have a magnetic dry erase board on the fridge with room to write down things we’re out of or running low on for the grocery store and Costco. This ensures less items are forgotten. It is still helpful to go back through the fridge, freezer and all pantries before heading to the store.
When creating your list, there are a few tips to remember:
Organize – Try and keep your list organized by where items are placed in your kitchen. For instance, have a column for frozen goods, another for refrigerated and a final one for pantry items. This will help three fold.
First, when you are shopping, many items are grouped together in this same way. This will making shopping quicker and leave little room for impulse buys since you aren’t just wandering up and down the aisles.
Second, all of the like items will be packaged together since they are in your cart together, keeping the cold items cold and the meats away from the bread and eggs.
Finally, since the items are packed together, putting them away at home will be a breeze. They will already be grouped according to where they go.
Game plan – Try to map out the stores you frequent. Unless they constantly move items around, you will be able to quickly find the cereal and the mustard without having to search around, wasting time and money. Being able to grab exactly what you need aids in cost savings because, again, you won’t be left to your own devices when walking aimlessly up and down the isles. Those impulse buys really kill the budget.
Budget check – Leave room on your list to write down prices. Many stores will honor prices if marked incorrectly on the shelf, or even give you that particular item for free if it rings up incorrectly. Being able to keep track of the dollars you are going to spend as you walk through the store also helps when it comes to shopping on a budget. When you see the dollars adding up, it is much more difficult to justify the impulse buy at the checkout lane.
To recap, make sure you have the list with you before you leave the house. Also, make sure that list is as complete as possible by keeping a running tab of needed items on the fridge. Sort the list by common items to make life easier and know where those items are located in your store. Finally, keep track of your spending on the same list to help with frugal shopping.
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