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Home >> Grocery Shopping Tips >> Step 8 Grocery List

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Step # 8 Master Organized Grocery List

Which item are you most likely to find in the back of the store?

A. Milk
B. Candy
C. Beer
D. Fruit and vegetables

Answer: A.

Staples such as milk and eggs are located in the back of stores to force you to walk past all the other items for sale in hopes of getting you to purchase more.

This is the point you begin to put everything together. You know your kitchen inventory, your weekly menu is set, the coupons are organized and there is your trusty Grocery Price Book.

The need for a master-shopping list?

Number #1 reason, it saves you time. With a master grocery list, you will not have to do the same work all over again every time you go to the grocery store. You do most of the work just once. Beside, it only takes a few minutes every week for you to mark off what you need on my master list. It will also help prevent your forgetting things. A master list is also (slightly) more likely to be used by the rest of the family to help you stay on top of what's been used up.

So how do you make your customized list?

There are many ways that you can make a list. I'm going to explain how you can create your own list and make it work for you.

The first thing you'll need to do is make a list of the things you normally buy. This is the time-consuming part. You might want to start with someone else's master list (I've included one in the Appendix.) and/or your old grocery-store receipts. Don't worry about perfection. You'll probably want to make up the list and then improve it over the next few trips to your grocery store.

Now sort your list. You can sort it by categories, if you like, (as in Appendix) but you may choose to sort by aisle in the store you usually shop in. If it's sorted by categories, you may find yourself going all over the store and then having to go back and look for things you missed. If it's sorted by aisle, you can go straight up and down whichever aisles you need to, and not skip over things by accident (usually). If you decide to sort your list by aisle, it will be slightly more time-consuming initially, but it should save you time in the end.

There are a couple ways to do this. The first time you make a master list, you should make the list without aisle numbers, then took a trip to the store to write down all the aisle numbers. When you get home you can reorganized the list. You could take your digital camera to the store. You can take pictures of each of the aisle signs.  For some fine-tuning, you'll find those pictures providing you with a good idea of what was in each aisle.  (Ask the store manager for permission or check and see if the store has a aisle layout or map.)  Formatting your list is the final step.

(I created that file in my spreadsheet program.  My list is printed on standard 8.5x11-inch paper, sideways (landscape).  I put it into a my Price Book and I've both tools while shopping.

Also, you can print a list is 4 columns. This allows you to fold the sheet of paper in half and work with only half 8.5x5.5 inches at a time. That's much easier for you to work with in the store, especially if you have your child with you.

How do you use your list?

When you're ready to go to the store, you put check marks in the blanks of the items you need, or the number of items you need, or initials of those who need the item (in the case of toiletries). In other words, you might put a check mark beside milk, 2 lbs. beside cheese, and (for me) a D and/or A beside shampoo.

You can write estimated prices to the right of each item. Save your old receipts and used to have to look all of these up, but now I remember most of them. You can add everything up on my calculator before you leave, and make sure you're within your budget.

If not, you can decide right then what adjustments to make, rather than having to do it at the store, which can be stressful. You want to estimate high and your bill is never as much as you might anticipate it to be. Something you may want to do is to print out a copy of the list when you first get back from the grocery store, and post it on the refrigerator, with a highlighter nearby. When a family member uses an item up, they can highlight that item on your list so you'll know to pay special attention to it prior to the next shopping day. You can decide how much you need (or if you really need it).

If there are items you buy somewhere other than your regular grocery store - for example, Sam's Club, Costco or the health food store, you can list those in a separate category toward the end of my list. You don't want to mix them in with the main part of your shopping list. You also used to have a set of blank lines at the end of your list to write in miscellaneous items.

Go to Step 9.  Next Savings Tip

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