Perfecting the Grocery List + Meal Planning

Prices of pretty much everything are going up. Everyday I’m either thinking about the price of gas, or the price of food. And the gas I’m going to spend to go get the food. To help with all this spending I have really been trying to stay on top of our food spending. With the increases at the grocery store I find it really easy to overspend, drastically.

Helping me to stay on budget is my grocery list, but no. This is not any ordinary grocery list. Where you sit down for ten minutes, write down what you need. Then head out to the store. Creating your grocery list, a list to help you save money takes time and energy. I’ll be open and honest. Expect to spend minimum thirty minutes or more.

With all the things we have going on in life, I know many are not going to want to put the time and effort in. But honestly, doing so will save you in the long run. And over time, you will decrease that time frame by doing these steps.

Create Categories Based Off Your Store

When you enter the grocery store, what is the food section you shop in first? Then second? And so on.

For me it’s: fruits/ veg, bread, deli, meats, healthy aisle, dairy and eggs, frozen, baby food, dry foods.

While reading your list at the store, it will help you not forget anything. And prevent you from having to go back to a section you’ve already been.

So grab a piece of paper, and make your headings in order of the section you start at, to the section you finish at.

Know Your Staples

Sit down and write out the foods you and your family eat every week. Does one child like a certain type of granola bar? Someone always eat oranges? Don’t forget chicken nuggets. Make a list of what you know you need to buy!

And write down when you run out of something during the week. Did you shop on Monday, but were out of deli meats on Thursday, maybe you need to add more down to your list.

Check Your Stock Pile

These are items you might not use regularly. Canned foods, flour, sugar, oats, spices or mixes. But are important to have stocked to save you a random trip to the store one day. Where you go in for flour, but come out with $100 worth of groceries (been there!). So get up and take a look!

Check The Flyer

This is probably the most important step when creating a grocery list on a budget. You can download the @getflipp app which gives you access to hundreds of flyers right on your phone.

Look up the store you will be shopping at and browse. See something on sale that is on your list? Jot down the price beside the item on your list. Once all done, checkout your savings. Do you think you’re really going to save? Ask yourself if you should stock up more because of your savings?

You can go a step beyond and check out other store flyers. Do you see peanut butter on sale somewhere else, but not at your store? Tap and save, and do some price matching while at check out.

Check Your Freezer & Fridge

Fridge foods spoil faster, maybe you don’t need to buy hummus. Or you’re more stocked up than you think in the freezer. Take the opportunity to check. This is also a great opportunity to throw out foods that have gone bad. Give the fridge a mini clean out before you fill it back up with more food.

Let’s Check-In

Ok we have done a lot so far! So let’s just take a minute to see what we have done.

  1. We set up our list and created our categories in order from where we start shopping IN the store to where we finish.
  2. We wrote down our staples, our must-have purchases.
  3. We checked out stock piles to see if there is something we need more of.
  4. We looked through the flyer, highlighted items on sale and did some rough math on the potential savings.
  5. We checked the freezer & fridge to see if there were any meals that needed to be eaten.

Now is the time to finish our list by doing some meal planning. Now, when writing this meal plan. It’s not the be all end all. You might get to the store and realize they don’t have chicken breast. So maybe write down some extra meals, or write down some substitutions. You have a meal written down with chicken, can you substitute it with something else?

Meal Plan Tips

  • Let the family get involved – have the kids pick a meal, ask your partner if there is something they would like to eat. One less meal for you to think of.
  • ONE vegetarian meal (or more) – vegetarian meals are easy and can be a lot cheaper than a meal with meat. A can of chickpeas can feed a family of four and only cost around $2.
  • Check the fridge & freezer AGAIN – is there some leftovers to eat, or something in the freezer that should be eaten soon? Make a meal out of those.
  • Meal plan at your comfort level – do you like a strict list or more broad? If you pick hamburgers but want to leave what sides you’ll eat to the day of making it. Or, you want to write down exactly what you will be eating, go for it.
  • Check the flyer AGAIN – maybe something is on sale you don’t always buy, but can make a meal from it.

Finish the list

Ok, you’ve got your meal plan done! You know what you plan on eating for the week. Time to finish writing down on your grocery list what you need to eat all those delicious meals. And then you are ready to…. Grocery shop!

But wait….they didn’t have something at the store that you needed. So either:

  • Substitute for something else
  • Completely cross it off your list
  • Or create something new last minute (you planned fajitas but now you’re doing tacos)

Finesse The Meal Plan

You’ve gone grocery shopping, now you’re home. You’ve got everything put away. Go back to your written meal plan, and update it. Like up above, you were going to do fajitas one night, but changed it to tacos. Write that change down!


And that is it! This is my way of creating the perfect grocery list while also completing my meal plan.

Is it a process yes? Is it worth it and a great way to save money, eat homemade meals consistently, stay on top of healthy eating, and not waste any food? YES!

Don’t forget to tag @thejaclynyvonne on social media!

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