That's our list and we're sticking to it

By glblguy

This article is part of an ongoing series called Money Saving Monday. Each Monday, I share tips and techniques you can use to start saving money.

Now that we’re getting settled into the new house we’ve begun to explore the area a bit and locate the various stores and restaurants, unfortunately the closest grocery store is 20 minutes away as is the closest decent hardware/home store. The least expensive grocery store is 25 minutes away.

We’ve been spoiled. In our old home, we were 5 minutes from three different grocery stores and about 10 minutes to two diffeent hardware/home stores. When we decided we needed something, we just hoped in the car real quick and went and got.

We’ve kept grocery and shopping lists in the past, but honestly seldom used them. When you are 5 minutes away, if you forgot something it’s no big deal. Now though, with a 20-25 minute drive, we’ve been trying hard to avoid driving as much as we can. We’ve begun using lists like crazy.

Keeping a shopping list

We keep an 8×11 sheet notepad right in the kitchen and as soon as we realize we are out of something or need something, we write it down. We’ve also been doing the same for little things we’ve found on the house that require repair. When we go out, the list comes with us. This has kept us from the “opps” factor of forgetting something, which before wasn’t a big deal but now is. Frankly, over the past week and a half, if we find we’re out of something, we improvise or just do without.

Planning our meals

Being further away has also forced us to plan our meals a little better as well. Again, before we just ran to the grocery store before dinner to get whatever was needed for our meal, now we can’t. My wife has been pretty much planing out dinners for the entire week and buying what’s needed for those during our trip to the store.

Sticking to a list

The hardest part about a list is sticking to it. This is a problem regardless of whether you’re 5 minutes away for a store or an hour away. There is just so many different items that “call out to you” as you walk buy. Those little items really add up though and will have a significant negative impact to your budget.

When you shop with a list, stick to it. Of course you will invariably see something that you need to buy, but if it’s not on your list really consider whether you need it or not. For example, we were shopping the other night at the local grocery store. All we needed was some milk, bread, lunch meats and a few other minor things. We ended up purchasing toilet paper and paper towels as well. Those items weren’t on the list, but we knew we were about out and would need them before our next trip. Be very careful though. These little extras can really add up. If it’s not on your list and you don’t need it until your next trip, don’t buy it. Sticking to your list is how you’re going to save money.

What we learned through this is to not only write items down on your list when you need them, but make a quick run through of the kitchen and/our house and note down items that you use on a frequent basis that you’ll run out of before the next trip and write them down as well.¬† In addition to toilet paper and paper towels consider personal care items (shampoo, deodorant, tooth paste), milk, breakfast foods, etc.

I’ll be keeping an eye on our budget, but I’m pretty sure just from the spending trends I’ve been seeing over the past week and a half that we should be spending less on groceries as a result of being further away. So want to save money on your grocery bill or cut back your spending? Make a list and stick to it.

Have a related tip you would like to share? Do you keep a list? How much has it saved you? Add a comment!

Photo by: bonimo

15 Responses (including trackbacks) to “That's our list and we're sticking to it”

  1. The Debt Helper Says:

    We have been doing meal planning for the past 2-3 years and it really does work and I recoken it easily saves around $20 a week on impulsive buying. First we decide on the meals for that week, by going through our recipe book. Then we make a list of the grocery item’s we will need. Now here’s the clincher, we then do our shopping grocery online. It is too tempting to buy more than you need when wondering around the a store, but most online shopping sites, have a little shopping basket that will keep a running total of what you are spending, which means that if it goes over you can take a few items out. This is not so easy to do at a till in a real store, when you have an angry queue of shoppers around you!

  2. Laura Says:

    A lists is essential as it becomes easier and easier to go of track and get extra items at places like Wal-mart. I say it cut our groceries at least 10% by having a list handy.

  3. Wholesale Says:

    Creating a shopping list in advance can be beneficial also and after you’re done shopping you should KEEP your list!

    Throughout the month you can check the sunday paper as well as ads from your local grocery stores to collect valuable coupons for huging savings such as when the gal goes in to the store and buys $130 worth of food for $30!

    Coupons can save you tons of money if you learn how to use them.

  4. Scott Says:

    I use to write my list and see the total. This means I can stick to an exact item/brand and have no excuses for spending too much.

    I almost halved my food bill doing this ( I would buy all sorts of junk previously) and have cut down on waste by a massive amount.

  5. Alissa Says:

    I’ve always been been an avid once-a-week shopper. I have a master shopping list on my Palm Pilot, and add things to the “needed” list as soon as I run out of them. Then, every Friday night, I sit down with my husband and make a meal plan for the coming week, adding any fresh items needed to the list to complete the meal plan. Then, on Saturday, I head out and do my shopping. However, this month I’m trying something different, to see if it makes a difference in our spending. I’m trying once-a-month shopping. It means instead of just planning for one week, I’m attempting to plan for the whole month. I went through our house and made a list of everything I thought we would need for the month, from pantry items to garbage bags to light bulbs. Then I went out and did a marathon shopping trip. Ideally I should just be able to do a weekly run for dairy and produce, and avoid the middle aisles of the grocery store altogether. I’ll do as much of that weekly shopping at the farmer’s market as possible, buying in-season produce, and planning meals around that. I’m curious to see how it impacts how much we spend, when we plan for a whole month at a time. I’ll be blogging about it at

  6. Miranda Says:

    We’re slowly adopting the meal planning thing. (My husband has been adverse.) But we’re doing a list, and thinking about what we want to eat ahead of time. I like Alissa’s idea of the master list on the PDA. That way it’s always with you. I have a friend who keeps hers on the cellphone.

  7. Christina Says:

    We also live 20 minutes away from the nearest grocery store, and about 30 minutes from the cheaper ones. It was also a tough adjustment for since we moved from an area where we had several stores within 2 miles or so. I love the country though, so it’s worth it! You also think more before you go somewhere since it also costs a lot of gas to get anywhere!

  8. Wendy Says:

    I am an advid coupon shopper who “stockpiles” lots of thengs I get for really reduced prices, and would never shop without my list and my coupons! I always save between 40-50% off my gorcery bills. I feed our family of 4 for about $100 a week- give or take a few bucks. I use a program called “the grocery Game” that helps me track specials and freebies. See my post
    for more info. This also enables me to buy extrra to donate to our local food pantries.

  9. Denise Says:

    I now shop every two weeks, with maybe a milk run inbetween. this really saves me money and is very doable. I also now fix extra and freeze for busy nights. I also find i save money, sometimes, by not sticking to a list. If I see a good, store special I replan my list in a hurry and stock up on the sale items. Some items, I now only buy once a month because of good sales and some items I only need to replenish every two to three months. My stockpiled pantry is saving me quite a bit of money.

  10. Ron Says:

    I thought you were going to say, to save money at the grocery store buy a new house that is further away…..

    Try this is a great way for families to keep everything organized. It’s free and very nice.

  11. frugalchick Says:

    Meal planning and going grocery shopping with a list is a must for me. Without it, I’ll be wandering the aisles of the store for hours and still not come up with ingredients for a decent meal.

    If I see a sale that is too good to pass up, I’ll stock up on those which I will incorporate in next week’s menu plan. I will occasionally pick up a treat or two for me and my husband but that’s about it.

  12. Deb Says:

    Do I have a list??!!! My kids lovingly (?) call my list my “brain”!! A list has tremendously helped me. This is how I work my list though:
    Let’s say I’m empty the ketchup. I go to the cabinet and get a ketchup out then go to my list and write it down. This way I’m never caught without something and I don’t make unecessary trips into town. With my husband getting paid every two weeks, I try not to make those “little” trips into town. I can never just walk in for a bottle of ketchup…I find 10 other things that I “need” and $40 later, I’m bringing home my ketchup.

  13. debram Says:

    I use the LobotoME feedME meal planner and CHeckME grocery shopping list to help us only buy what we need! I also check the pantry and freezer before planning the weeks meals. We live about 20 minutes from town too so I try to do just one trip a week.

    I got the lists at the Container Store but they are online too at