Making a grocery list is an essential part of saving money on groceries. The process of making a grocery list seems simple and straight-forward at first glance, but it can get quite complicated. The easiest way to make the most concise grocery list is outlined below.
Look in your cupboards. If you tend to be forgetful or if you have a lot of different things in your cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer, it would be best to make a list of what you already have available. If you already have a routine set as to what you have and what you usually get, you can get by without making an actual list. I would recommend making the whole big list every now and again in order to force yourself to stay current with what ingredients you have so nothing spoils and goes to waste.
Write up a meal plan. This can be done weekly or monthly. I prefer to make my meal plan weekly in order to best utilize left-overs. I can't commit to a specific dinner a month in advance, anyway, but to each their own. Be sure to include ingredients you have on hand in your meal plan. If you don't plan to use something, what is the point of having bought it?
Look at your grocery store ads. By this point in the process you should have a pretty good idea of what you need to get from the grocery store. Looking at the sales helps because you can buy one thing over another to save money. For example, let's say you have celery and carrots in your fridge. You've decided to use them to make soup. You can use pretty much any meat to make a soup, so when the ad says chicken is on sale, your choice is pretty simple. Obviously you are not bound to buy only what is on sale and use it only this week. Using sales is a great way to stock up on items you use regularly.
Match up sales and coupons. The secret's out: this is how I get a lot of free groceries. It's quite simple, really, it just takes time. I get a lot of pasta this way, along with other various items: frozen snacks, cereal bars, oatmeal, and so on. As far as stocking up, yes, I definitely buy pasta in quantity when I can get it for free! Of coarse I won't use all the pasta all at once, but it stores well.
Write your list. Now you can write your list, including sale prices and making notes of coupons. I like to write out the sale price and the price minus coupon so I know how much money I will be spending at the grocery store. I usually spend about $17 per week on groceries on average for my family of four.