The final step for our meal plan is making our grocery list that we'll take to the store with us.
The Grocery List
I will preface this section by saying that my method is probably redundant to most people, but it absolutely works for me. I think the redundancy of it actually cements things in my mind.
A grocery list helps you stick to your budget. It stops you from making all of those impulse buys that the grocery stores like to drag you into with their fancy displays, IF you determine to only purchase what is on that list!
I have complete tunnel vision with my list, and my children know that when they shop with me they get nothing that isn't on that list. If there's something special that they want I had better know about it before I leave the house!
The only time that I deviate from my list is when I find a very, VERY good deal on meat or produce. Those two things eat up the majority of our budget so whenever I find a good deal I try to snatch them up.
This is another area where having a budget and list helps. My list gives me a general idea of how much money I will be spending. If I know that I have a list that is only taking up $80 of a $125 budget for food this week, then I know I have a $45 cushion to take advantage of really good deals.
I typically make my list on a plain sheet of notebook paper, but I have a pretty printable grocery list for you in the kit (cause you're awesome and totally deserve pretty stuff!). It is categorized in the same way that I make my list - refrigerated, frozen, produce, canned, and boxed. Categorizing in this way means that I can use my list at any store, and it's very easy to check the current stock in my kitchen.
I make my grocery list in a series of steps:
- I go through each printed recipe and write down everything that I will need to make it - even if I think, or know, I already have that item! Told ya…redundant.
- I write down ingredients for other items on the meal plan that don't have a printed recipe (things like sandwiches, mac-n-cheese, hot dogs, etc.)
- I write down anything extra we need that isn’t included on the meal plan. Things like coffee, tea, apple juice, creamer, etc.
- I take my list to the kitchen and look through the fridge, freezer, and pantry to make sure I have everything. If I do have an items I mark it off the grocery list.
What I’m left with looks like my 5 year old made it.
It’s not pretty. But it absolutely works for me!
After You Shop!
After you get those groceries put away, open up my favorite grocery money saving app and see if you qualify for any cash back offers!
If you aren’t already signed up with Ibotta you are missing out on absolutely free CASH! You can use this link, or this code - pheuufx - and you’ll get a free $10 after you claim your first rebate! Sweet!
Last But Not Least
USE THE PLAN!!
Putting in all this effort to make a meal plan will do you absolutely no good if you don't actually use the thing!
Having a meal plan saved our family thousands of dollars. YOU can save money by making a meal plan too! My system is one that I've tweaked and changed over the years so that it best serves my family and our budget. Don't be afraid to try different things until you find what works for you! The important thing is just to start somewhere.
Don't forget to snag the free printable Meal Planning Kit to help you get started!
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