Buying groceries is one of the tasks that we have to do regularly. Despite it being a common thing to do, it can be very tough to sort out your priorities when it comes to grocery shopping. Making a grocery list will be a step-by-step process. It depends on how many people you’re buying groceries for, what type of groceries you prefer, and what length of time you’re buying groceries for. There is a broad range of options available, fortunately. If you don’t have an idea of how to start, it’s better to draw out a plan firsthand. If you want a guideline on how to make a grocery list, you've come to the right place.
Planning is the most important part of making the grocery list. It’ll make sure you’re not missing anything by the time you’re done shopping. Additionally, it’ll make budgeting a lot easier for you. So let’s start with that.
Figuring Out What You Need
Now, you’ll have to sit down and decide what things you need first. As you go about your days, try to keep a running list where you add different stuff whenever you think of them. For example, keeping a list pinned on the fridge where anyone can add what they need till you go grocery shopping. A step-by-step process will help you make a concrete list of things that you need and want. Next time you buy groceries, go through these steps to make the list.
- Checking Stock
Check everything in your pantry. If you’ve already had some shopping done before, make note of the things that you bought the last time. Any food item or household items that look like they’re about to run out should be listed. Go through your kitchen items, toiletries, living necessities, and regularly used items. So you can make sure that nothing goes amiss.
- Keeping a Running List
Keep a post-it note or a piece of paper in a central area in the living room or dining. Make sure to tell everyone in the household to note down things on that piece of paper they need. So this will give you an idea of what things you might need for every member of the house. This can also work for personal lists. You can make note of things as you think of them so you don’t forget them later.
- Noting How Much You’re Using Things
Before you even start making a grocery list, start observing what things get used fast. It can be food staples like flour, potatoes, vegetables, etc., or even things like toilet paper and paper towels. If you can measure how often these things get used, you can get an idea of how often you should be buying them. The frequency of how much you’re using some things can be incredibly useful to not buy too much or too little of them. This will also help you keep a tighter budget and buy more necessary items.
- Planning How Often You Shop
The amount of times you visit the supermarket or grocery store is essential when you make the list. If you’re going there once a week, your list may be shorter and contain more extra expenses than necessary ones. On the other hand, monthly grocery shopping will have you buying more of the necessary items. So, plan out how often you’ll visit the online grocery store according to how much time you spend in the supermarket as you go.
- Adding Stuff You Want but Don’t Strictly Need
Once you have a rough list in hand, you can figure out what things from there you don’t need immediately. If there are things that are more of a hobby purchase or things that are a want than a need, then put them on a separate list. This way, in case you run into a tighter budget, you’ll buy the necessary things before you get the other ones. And keeping them on a different list will also put into perspective how much you’re spending on them.
Sectioning Your Grocery List
When you have your needs figured out, it’s time to section out what things you need. For example, you can separate the things you need into food staples, grains, meats, fruits and veggies, and frozen items. You can also extend this into other household items, like toiletries, cleaning items, etc.
Sectioning your grocery list can help you prioritise what items you need first. For example, you might need the staples only once a month. This way, you can buy them in bulk. And for frozen items, you can buy them once every two weeks. Therefore, it can make the toll lighter on your budget and time.
- Breakfast Food: The breakfast food items can be cornflakes, oats, and eggs. Separate these into one list so you can avoid excessive spending on any of them.
- Grains: Grain-type food includes rice, brown rice, etc. You can also include other carbohydrate items here like pasta and bread. These are the items people consume more often so you can section these items and buy them in bulk.
- Proteins: Chicken, eggs, fish, and milk are items that fall under this category. You may need to replenish your pantry with these items weekly. And since these are more on the expensive side, make sure to narrow it down to what you need. You can also include meats and nuts in this category.
- Oils and Condiments: Cooking oils, butter, sauces, salad dressings, and spices are under this section. You can usually buy these items once for a couple of months. And it can also depend on the specific dish you need them for. Be careful when listing these in large quantities. That way, you’ll be able to measure out exactly how much you need and won’t have useless leftovers.
- Frozen and Fatty Items: There is a broad range of frozen and fatty items. These items are usually only bought occasionally. So when you include these in your list, make sure to get them along with your bulk purchases. Those are the items that can last you a long time.
- Produce: Produce is a daily need in many households. Any type of fruits or vegetables that are freshly picked fall under this section. When you make a list of produce in your grocery list, try not to overestimate your needs. They might go bad sooner than you think. Alternatively, list only what you need frequently in the week. Or you can buy them daily while you spend time outside.
Budgeting for Your Grocery List
Budgeting is possibly the most important segment of making a grocery list. Because it rules over every item that you purchase, you have to draw out your budget way before you make your grocery list. Only you will have the idea of how much money you’re willing to spend on groceries. But keeping a couple of things in mind will help you stay ahead of the game.
The way to make sure you don’t overspend but make the most out of your budget is to plan ahead of time. Observe your spending and cut some expenses here and there to add on to that. Here are some of the things that will help you make the budget.
Setting aside a percentage of the income you have every month or week. Make sure the percentage is flexible, but not too much to allow for unnecessary items. Plan meals ahead of time to make a consistent food grocery list for every week. This can save time and a lot of money.
- Always mention exactly how much of that item you need beforehand on your list.
- Note how much you currently spend on groceries; make a comparison of the earlier one. And then make a new one by cutting and adding necessary and unnecessary stuff.
- Keep a list of things you can buy in bulk at the beginning of the paycheck-time. Carbohydrates and frozen foods that you consume a lot can be on the list here.
- If you get the chance, look out for coupons that fit the budget. You can use them for unnecessary purchases as it will save money. And it can come in handy in buying essential items too.
Making Different Types of Grocery Lists: People You’re Buying For
There are many people you might need to buy groceries for. Grocery shopping can be for yourself, your family, your roommates, or even your pets. It’s important to consider everybody when you’re making a combined grocery list for everyone. The way to go about making sure everyone gets what they need from the grocery run is to remember the essential things for everybody. You can use the following guideline to have an idea about what you should get for everybody.
- Personal Shopping
When you’re making a grocery list only for yourself, consider everything you need and make a list continuously. This means that the running list will come in handy in this case. You can keep a paper list of places you spend the most time in. It can be easy to disregard your needs when you’re doing personal shopping. Make sure that you include self-care items along with items that you need firsthand. Meal planning can be an efficient way to cut down the time you’ll need to make a list.
One thing people also get carried away with personal shopping is over-spending. Keep a priority list as mentioned before. This can be hard, but it will ultimately leave you with a lot of spending or saving money at the end of your paycheck.
- Shopping For a 2-3 Person Household
A 2-3 person household can be a house shared by partners or even roommates. It’s common to do the shopping for other members of your household while doing your own. When you have a combined grocery list, make a central list where everyone can include their needs for the week or month. A lot of households of this type prefer shopping on a budget. This is because they are supporting the household with a tight budget and want personal expenses too.
Make a monthly budget for the whole household that will be spent on groceries only. It doesn’t have to be strict. But if you have your needs and wants separately on the list, then it can be easy to narrow down your list for shopping. Make sure to discuss with the whole household before deciding the items to get from your list.
- For a Family with Kids and/or Elders
Grocery shopping for a family with kids and/or elders is a big deal in itself. These families usually require shopping at least once every week since there are so many members in the family. But, a combo of both monthly- and weekly grocery runs can make list-making a lot easier.
For example, in big families like these, there are staples that the whole family will need. Items like rice, pasta, frozen meats, oils, condiments, etc. should be listed for the monthly run. Then in your weekly grocery list, you can include every person’s individual needs for the week. This can get messy too. So, keep the running list an idea here as well.
Encourage every family member to list out what they need at least a day before you make the main grocery list. So when you put their items in the list, you can prioritise what you’ll buy first and what can be bought later. Again, it’s important to discuss the plans and the list with everyone beforehand.
Making a Grocery List for Healthy Consumption
If you’re a health-conscious person, there need to be healthier choices on your grocery list instead of generic ones. Fortunately, healthy grocery lists are easier to make than general ones. Here, you’ll have a small choice of healthier items that you should include in your grocery list. This can come in handy even if you aren’t focusing on healthy eating.
When you make a healthy grocery list for yourself, remember to include items that other people in the household need as well. So keep a separate list only for healthy items you prefer and list them for buying at the beginning of the month.
Making a grocery list is a fun activity as much as it is confusing. After sectioning, budgeting, and considering every member in your household, you won’t be left wondering how to make a grocery list. Making your grocery list won’t be perfect the first time around. It will take a lot of practice and purchases to know what you need to put on it to make it effective. But, if you’re careful about it from the get-go, you can save a lot of hassle for yourself. Happy shopping!