Use shopping list to save time, money

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Using a shopping list can be an easy way to save some money. The average shopper spends 40 percent more on impulse purchases when shopping without a list. If that's the case, for $70 spent at the grocery store, there's a good chance that $20 of those purchases are unplanned. That adds up over a year's time! A shopper is also likely to spend 50 cents more for every minute in the grocery store beyond the first 30 minutes. The saying "time is money" may well be true.

Shopping with an organized list may be one of the biggest bargains of a shopping trip.

An unorganized list may have you retracing steps to pick up items missed the first time down the isles. And each time you pass that delicious display at the end of the counter, it becomes even more tempting to pick up impulse items not on the list.

An organized shopping list will get you out of the store in less time. The easiest way to organize a list is to use the major food groups (grains, vegetables, fruits, milk and dairy products, and meat and beans) as the headings.

A better way is to think about the layout of the store where you shop. Make a master list by recording general headings that describe your food purchases. Sample headings might include fresh fruits and vegetables, baking items, rice and pastas, canned and boxed foods, beverages, household supplies, bakery products, and refrigerated and frozen foods.

Photocopy the master list or print it from a computer for use as a weekly shopping list.

Keep the shopping list in a central location -- the front of the refrigerator may be a handy place. Ask family members to add to it as needed, to avoid running out of items and return trips to the store.

For frequently used non-perishable foods, you might consider adding the item to the shopping list at the time you open a new container. This works if you have adequate storage space and helps prevent suddenly running out of a product you use frequently.

Use sale items to stretch your food dollars. Check out the weekly grocery ads to see what items are on sale, especially the meat and produce sales. Base your weekly menu around those special deals. For example, if the grocery store is selling tuna at a lower-than-usual price, you might decide to serve tuna casserole and tuna salad sandwiches that week.

Buying in larger quantity is often more economical, if you can use the large quantity before it goes bad or you get tired of it. Meat purchased on sale in a large package can be divided into appropriate amounts for your family before freezing. When ready to cookla., it's easy to thaw and prepare the amount needed to feed your family.

For any recipes you plan to prepare during the coming week, check your kitchen to make sure you have all of the ingredients needed to complete the recipe, and add any necessary items to your list.

Plan to shop during the least busy times whenever possible. Weekdays or early morning tend to be less crowded, which lets you get in and out of the store more quickly. Avoid shopping when you're hungry or tired. And, shop by yourself whenever possible.

Editor's Note: Ann Ludlum is a K-State Research and Extension family and consumer sciences and 4-H extension agent assigned to Bourbon County. She may be reached at (620) 223-3720 or