an almost-empty refrigerator

Saving money at the grocery store: building a grocery list

In this series of posts, we’re helping you save money at the grocery store. In this post, we focus on key steps to building a grocery list.

Preparing a list before you head to the store is vital, but simple and saves you money. It can be done quickly and easily, with just the following steps.

  1. Check your refrigerator for items you already have, noting those that are on the other side of fresh. If you are throwing away food, you are throwing away your money, too. So, know what items from your refrigerator need to be purchased.
  2. Check your pantry. If you find cans from 2015 – or any food beyond its expiration date – you’re doing this wrong. Throw them away (note: do NOT donate them). Remember the FIFO rule: First In, First Out. So, make sure to check your food expiration dates regularly, and use them so you don’t have to throw away wasted food.
  3. Create your meal plan. Think of preparing at least four meals during the week ahead. Then, check your refrigerator and pantry for needed ingredients (don’t forget to consider your leftovers). Add only what you’ll need to your grocery list.
  4. Create the grocery list. A great tool is to keep a running list during the week because this saves you time. When you run out of an ingredient or food item, place it on your list. Keep your list on paper or your phone or whatever works. Family members should be able to add to your list, as well, but you make the final decision on what to buy. And, remember those buy-one-get-one deals when you need snacks for school or sport events.

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