How To Organize Your Grocery Shopping Trips (to save time and money)

My biggest way to save money when buying groceries is to always, always, always bring a list with me.  But not just any list, but my master grocery list, which is the product of my entire grocery shopping system.  And I want to share my step-by-step process with you today, so you can shop smarter, cheaper, and faster using my system.

  1. The first thing I do is get out my frequently used cookbooks and a notebook (and a writing utensil).  And I keep a list of frequently made meals on my wall on a whiteboard calendar.  This helps me to rely on old favorites as well as coming up with new ideas that will work with what I have (or the amount of money I have). 
  2. How many days until payday?  I need to make that many dinners.  What do I already have for lunches?  What do I still need?  I then make a list of all the dinners I want to make.  I write them like this:

    Recipe Name/Name of Cookbook/Page Number

    If you can, turn your notebook into sections: "Recipes (meaning the previous line above)"  "Shopping Lists" "Lunch Ideas"  "Breakfast Ideas"  "Favorites (this is where you can keep your frequently made meals)"
  3. Then, make your shopping list.  Go over each and every recipe (you can do this as you go) and write down what you need for each one.  Here are the headers that I use:

    Meats      Dairy    Canned Goods     Dry/Spices    Produce   Pets   HN (household necessities) (and anything else that comes up)

    This way of organizing my list came from the Saving Dinner (<--affiliate link--this means I get a small percentage of the sale which goes to help my family buy more groceries 😏) line of cookbooks from  If you haven't tried the Saving Dinner books yet, you are missing out!  These are my all time favorite cookbooks as they are down to earth and easy to make! 
  4. Once the list is made, I figure out what store I can buy what and anything that is somewhere different than my main store will get circled with the store's code by it (make your own code for each store--initials work fine for this).  I then go shopping!
  5. If I am on a strict budget, I will price each item as I go and add it up.  If I am on a lenient budget, I just buy what's on my list and not worry about it.  But the trick is to not buy anything that's not on your list.  No extras!!  Not unless it's something you honestly need.  But the is the most money saving part of the whole system: not buying impulse items.  Having a list like this will keep you so busy that you won't even want to buy anything extra 😜

And that's it! 

Is this time consuming?  Not as much as you'd think, but yet, it takes longer than just a trip to the store.  But it will save you LOADS in the long run (of both money and time!).  Think of grocery shopping as an large one instead of several small ones. 

Now, this kind of trip may be easier if you leave the kids at home, unless you can get them to help out.  Give them each a part of the list (depending on their ages which part of the list you will give them) and see who can find the cheapest items or who can find the most items first.  Though making it a race might mean you'll be getting a call to the front of the store before it just depends on your children and what they're capable of LOL  (I have two rambunctious boys who had to stay with me otherwise who knows they'd try to go home with! haha--now they are 15 and 19, so I don't worry so much 😉)

This works for my family, and it helps us to not overspend and it saves a million trips to the grocery store each week.  If you try it out, let me know below if it works for you or if you have any suggestions on how to make it better! 

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