Thursday, October 26, 2017

How I plan for our weekly grocery trip

I have a friend who hates grocery shopping. I'm not sure why, but I've always loved making a menu plan and working out a list for what we need. Maybe it's because it's one of the few times a week where I get to go in a store and buy lots of things :). I also always look like a hero to my kids when I return home with bags and bags of food! 

Today I'd like to share with you my process for creating a grocery list each week. I've used this plan for several years now and it's worked really well for us. There are sometimes midweek runs that my husband needs to make to the store but usually I can cover most of what we need with this list. I rarely use coupons because most of our grocery shopping is done at Aldi.

I always start with looking at the sales flyers that week to note any good sales that I'd like to take advantage of as well as consider what's already in our pantry. Once I know that, I am ready to plan! 
  1. I use a spreadsheet on Google Docs. (I created a blank sample sheet here that gives you an idea of what I'm talking about.) I use the same list every week and delete or add to it as needed.
  2. I scan a list of meal plan ideas on the right side of the spreadsheet
  3. I go through last week's list and delete what we don't need for this week.
  4. Then I fill in what we do need, whether it's for meals this week, or items we've run out of or things on sale I want to buy.
  5. For each item I enter, I make sure to enter in the quantity times the price in the cost column.
  6. Then, once I'm done with my basic list, I look at the total at the bottom that factors in sales tax (yes, we pay sales tax on food here!). 
  7. If I haven't met my weekly budget limit (usually around $75-$80 with tax), sometimes I will add in some fun foods or things we don't always get to eat. Other times I will just save that money for another week where we might really need it. But if I've gone over, then I go back and look carefully through the list to see what I can cut out or swap to make that week work

Exceptions to this plan:
  • There are some weeks where I need to buy a few larger purchases and go over the average weekly amount. Once a month I usually have to buy a big 5 lb block of mozzarella from Sam's, for example, or diapers. There also might be a really good sale going on that week on meat or another stock-up item. Because our weekly average usually lands us below our monthly budget goal, I have some wiggle room.
  • I used to get really upset if we went over, but I've slowly realized that we are not the family who has a spending problem in the food department. Month after month, we generally stay within budget, but there are some months where we just go over (like the holiday months). I still tally up what we've spent to track it, but I don't freak out if we've gone over. That's just life. Now if we were going over by $150 every month, I would need to revisit what's going on, but that's usually not the case.
Do you have a tried-and-true method for planning grocery shopping to maximize your savings? If so, I'd love to hear!


  1. I don't think I could improve on your system. That tax on food is a killer though! We don't have that in Minnesota. (Just on things like soda, candy etc.) We also do not have tax on clothing.

    1. Minnesota's taxes make a lot more sense - I can't believe they don't charge on clothing either!


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