Back at the beginning of this year I wrote this post about the changes I wanted to make and areas that I wanted to improve. Some of those things have happened… and a lot have not…
One of the things that I have done is really work on cutting back on my grocery budget by meal planning and only buying what I NEED. Not what I think I need…
An area that I realized I was goofing in, was buying only half of the items that I needed for a meal thinking that I had a particular item in the pantry when I really didn’t. Or doing the opposite and buying a bunch of something only to get home and realize I had several hiding in the back of the pantry.
When I ended up with half of the ingredients that I needed for a recipe, I wasn’t always able to make it back to the store that week. Perishables would spoil, and in turn food and money was wasted. I was determined to work out a better system to cut back on that wasteful spending.
I went through several options but ultimately decided on a spreadsheet that I could print off before I headed out to the store.
I tried apps for my phone and other gadgety systems but I couldn’t customize them or the lists, so I came up with something that works for me.
It is a simple check list on one side with a two week meal planning section on the other. Before I go to the store I print off a copy, sketch out my meals for the week, then go to the pantry and fridge and check to see what I need to buy that week.
If I already have an item in my pantry, I cross it off the list. This keeps me from picking up an extra can of black beans “just in case”. It also forces me to look through my pantry and fridge and see if I am running low on pantry staples like ketchup or mustard, so we don’t get caught without any. (It is also a great time to clean out the fridge and make space for new groceries)
I left a few blank spots at the bottom so I can add things that are not on the list as needed. I like that I can go back to the spreadsheet and change it any time on my computer. About once a month I find that I am tweaking the list to remove or add a few items. Aiden, our two year old, is constantly going through “moods” with foods and I can add his favorites.
As far as meal planning goes, I left space for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but I usually only use the dinner spot. Those extra spaces allow me to write in what days we will be eating leftovers, so I can estimate how many days we will be eating lunch that I need to prepare and I can gauge how much lunch stuff I need to pick up.
I like having the meal planning section right there on the list because I find that I can more quickly make changes on the fly at the store. If for example they have a particular cut of meat on sale, I can quickly change a meal or two and adjust the ingredients that I need to pick up.
Click this link to download a PDF of the shopping list for FREE. This list has my particular pantry items on it and since it is a PDF, it cannot be modified. (This one looks exactly like the picture above)
If you would like a copy of the spreadsheet so that you can customize the list to what you and your family need, you can purchase it for $1 through paypal. This small fee helps me keep this blog up and offer you great recipes and tips for free!! (Thanks for your support!)
Happy meal planning and shopping!!! Hopefully this puts you on the right track to wasting less and being more purposeful with your shopping!!