Saturday, March 5, 2011

31 Ways to Save on Your Grocery Budget: Tip #5

Tip #5 Shop With An Organized List That’s Listed By Store Aisle
I never realized how much time and money creating my shopping list by aisle saved me until my son rushed “the process” one week when he was not on his best behavior. I was like a lost puppy zigzagging through the store wasting precious time and, sigh, adding unnecessary items into my cart. Because it seems to hold true, the longer you are in the grocery store, the more items you seem to buy!
Creating my shopping list is quite a little process but it totally pays off! I always start with the rough draft of just jotting down the things I need in any order, keeping sale ad items last, though. Those things are from my “Low Inventory” list and from my Weekly Menu Plan that I’ve created. I also throw on some items that are on sale/deal that I might be interested in picking up. Next to each item, I put the sale price or a guesstimate of what I think it costs. Then comes the tally. If I am over budget, the fun begins! I have to decide if I am going to change my meal plan or debate if some of the deals are worth losing.
Once I’ve whittled my list down to my budget, hopefully leaving a cushion for any items that may pop-up during the week, I then create my “Master List.” This list is written up by store aisle. This is when shopping at the same store branch helps! (And if not, ask for a store guide. They usually have hand-outs for these.) Since I am a couponer, I put a little “Q” next to the items that I have coupons for. This way, I won’t forget to make sure I have it if I’ve found the item was available. (I have all of them pulled out ahead of time, but sometimes, things are just out-of-stock.) I also make a note of any store Qs for $$ off or catalinas so I don’t forget to hand those over, too.
Like I said, it takes a little bit of extra time, but shopping is now a breeze. I go up and down only the aisles I need ONCE! :) I am not very good at keeping a running total on a calculator so here’s my version. Since I already have a total by each item, I leave it if the item is that price or adjust it if it’s wrong or not available. Before I check-out, I do one quick total to make sure I’m within my limit.
And here’s a tip for those of you that stray from your list. For each item not on your list, put it in a separate area of your cart. Before you check-out, scan over all those items for two reasons. #1-Ask yourself if you really need it or did it just look good? And #2-How many items did you add? And always remember to stay within your budget!
Keeping an organized list not only saves time at the store but it also saves you $$ by preventing impulse buys. Both add up to $avings! Try it once and see if those extra few minutes of creating an “aisle list” don’t make it sooo much easier at the store! (Don’t forget to bring a pen to cross off the items!)
Hope this one helps.

Tune in tomorrow for Tip #6.

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