Making a grocery list is different for every family. Not every detail of my grocery list will be on here, but it gives a general idea of how I go about shopping for what I need. The budget is something that each individual family has to create based on their needs. My budget is pretty much the same every month, so after a few grocery trips, I know about how much I can get each week based on my budget.
To start, I make a list of everything I need to stock up on. So for example, if I'm out of items on my MONTHLY bulk list (items I use quite often) they make it to the top of the list.
Next I make a list of all of my weekly essentials. These are items that my family uses on a weekly bases, and some of our favorites.
Once I have made a list of my priority items, I consult my Meal Plan List. I look at the ingredients I need for each meal, making a separate list for these items, and I add what I don't already have to my grocery list. Some of my meals are easy like grilled chicken, which is already on my weekly essentials list. Anything I don't have room for within my budget gets added to my bulletin board for the next grocery shopping trip. This method gives me a balance in my shopping so that I'm buying what my family needs, but also making room for as many new meals as I can. The more comfortable I become with a meal, the more the items get stocked into my pantry.
After I have made a list of my essentials items, followed by my meal plan items, I create one giant list organized by category. The market I shop at has produce right in front when I walk in, so I know produce will be the first thing on my list. I make my list according to the set up of my store. I shop at this store every time, so I can count on the set up, and it makes my shopping trip that much easier! Putting your items into categories help you save time so that you are not running around the store, going back down the same isles for different ingredients. Once I'm at the store, I check off my items as I go. If by chance I happen to go over my budget, I make a mental note, and subtract the amount I went over from my next shopping trip.
-If you shop in big trips like I do, it helps to clean out your fridge before you go to the store. That way, you can place all of your items directly into the fridge, and sit down for a glass of iced tea after a long hard shopping trip!
-Don't shop when you're hungry! Enough said.
-When shopping, keep a rough mental tally of prices. Items can add up quick, so by keeping a mental tally you reduce the level of shock when all the items are added up in the check-out line.
-Make a running list of your monthly bulk items + essential items as you run out of them and keep it on your fridge. Don't leave them to memory!
-If trying to nail down a budget, keep a few trips worth of receipts and tally them up with a spread sheet.
-Freeze meats. I'm not sure if this is the way to do it or not, but it's the way I do it! I'm never sure how my week is going to play out, even with my Weekly Meal Plan List, so I freeze my meats and pull them out day-of as I need them.
-Try store brands. Some brands are just the way to go, but often times store brands are just as great, and cheaper too!
-Use store card savings. These are the BEST!
-Avoid frozen dinners and prepared entrees. This doesn't apply to every single frozen dinner, but I personally do not buy them.
-Get cloth grocery bags. I'm not saying this because its "green", I'm saying this because I hate a million plastic bags in my house, and paper just cuts down trees! Most stores sell cloth bags for 99 cents and they last forever!