Monday, February 15, 2010

Making a List, Checking It Twice

Good Morning!
This weekend I was thinking that it would be great idea to begin sharing some of my frugal living tips, particularly when it comes to  preparing meals. Today we'll start with grocery shopping.

What is your shopping strategy? Do you walk down the aisles tossing items into the cart that you think you need, or do you use a list? I must admit I used to do the former, but my memory ain't what it used to be, so it's easier for me to make a list. At this point in the game, my list making has three components. Right now this is working for me, but I am the type of person who likes to streamline periodically, so next month I might refine this strategy again.
  1. The Running List: I have a small magnetic dry erase board on my refrigerator specifically for this purpose.  As I run out of something, I write it on the board. When I make my official list, I copy the items from the board.
  2. Menu Ingredients: When it's time to go shopping, I try to list some of the meals that I plan to cook and write those ingedients on the shopping list. I'm in the process of learning to menu plan so I've modified this step just a little. We'll chat about that later.
  3. Putting It Together: I like to use one of the shopping list templates from Microsoft Works because it helps you categorize your list, for example, dairy, cereals/ grains, produce, etc. It's kinda like using a map. This also cuts down on running in circles to buy milk, cheese, and butter. If they're listed together, you'll pick them up together. I also check my fridge and cabinets when I'm creating the master list to make sure I covered everything.
Aside from helping you remember what you need, making a list can help you stay focused on what you need. Focusing on what you need keeps you from blowing money. There times that I'm in the store and I realize that I still forgot something, and I will add it to the cart. However, you better believe it's not some random item that I can do without (like oreos).

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