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Which is best? With a list or without!!

June 20th, 2007 at 07:28 pm

So, I am going to ask all the intelligent and frugal person on here about the all important issue of grocery shopping. Do you go armed with a shopping list or without when you go grocery shopping?

I have always been a big advocate of no list from pre planned menus. My reasoning has always been because I only buy items that are on sale or that I have a great coupon for. My decision could also be based on the fact that I buy a great deal of things in volume. If canned vegetables are on sale for 25 cents a can , I will buy 5 cases of corn, green beans, a case of peas. If hamburger meat is on sale for under a dollar a pound I will buy 100 pounds. If I have 10 coupons for laundry soap and it is also on sale, I will buy 10.

I have a large pantry and a large freezer. If it is an item that I know we will use and it is on sale, I buy a great deal of it. Now, please keep in mind that when I say on sale, I mean really on sale with a huge price break. I don't consider it on sale if it is just a few cents off.

I go to the grocery store once a week with my coupons and sales ads, and spend a glorious hour without the kids. We have to go to the store two other times a week for items that we go through quickly and fresh produce. Our family consumers 8 gallons of milk each week, 10 loaves of bread, etc.

When one of us has to go stock up on more milk, lettuce, bread, friut, etc then I add on any items I need to complete a meal for that evening or the next few days. Which might be two items a week, maybe.

If I plan out menus before I go to the store, the items I need are not on sale it seems. I have tried to planned menus from the sales ad before I go to the store, but it doesn't seem to work for me. The sale ads here generally only have one really good sale on meat. My family does not want to eat the same kind of meat several days in a row.

We buy a side of beef every 6 months and I buy other meat when it is on sale. Our family likes to eat chicken, pork, fish, and turkey.

I realize that some people use a list so that are not tempted to buy expensive items that they don't really need. I do not do that. I only go grocery shopping after a meal when I am not hungry. That way I am not tempted to buy any junk.

So,.....help me please. If I am going at this wrong and you can reduce our food bill, I will be forever greatful. Our grocery receipts for last year equaled out to be 158.00 per week. That does not include the beef we have processed. I think we do a pretty good job. If we can lower it though I would be really happy.

I want to hear your suggestion, please!

14 Responses to “Which is best? With a list or without!!”

  1. baselle Says:

    I usually go with a list.

    I'm thinking that with 9 people you aren't going to do much better than you are. Tactics you might try are:
    1.) Identify, item by item, what you are spending the most on, then try to lower those costs. I'm guessing it is going to be milk and bread. Would baking bread be cheaper than buying it?
    2.) Eating produce in season - if its in season, big supply, fresher, lower price - and thinking less about heading to the grocery. It might be that a garden, P-patch, U-picks or buying a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share might be cost-effective.

  2. momandmurray Says:

    Thank you for your response! Bread here is only 50 cents a loaf. I could not even come close to baking it for less myself.
    I wish we could have a cow!! Smile Neighbors wouldn't like it!! $24 a week just on milk.

    We dont have any of the things you mentioned such as p-patch, u-picks, or csa. We do have road side vendors in some places, but they never have prices posted. I don't like to ask a price and then put the items back. Just makes me feel uncomfortable. But, a great idea that I need to explore! I need to get over my silly fears of offending people. Thanks

  3. Sindel Says:

    you sound like you're doing a good job. but then again i don't shop for a family (just myself!)

    since u say u have a large pantry and freezer, maybe the more crucial challenge for you is to keep up with what you have bought and not waste anything?

  4. momandmurray Says:

    I can proudly say, " We have never had anything expire." Thanks for that would go to our school system that seems to have a food drive every other month. They generally get the items I got free and few in my house are brave enough to try a new product. Any produce or parishables are generally turned into a pie or muffins when getting too ripe.

    Thanks for the suggestion though, it was awesome! Plus, food doesn't really have a chance here. I have two teenage boys eating non stop. What they don't eat, their sisters in college steal when visiting!! Smile

  5. Bookie Says:

    I keep a list of staples that I'm using up so I will know what might be low.

    I make a list from the weekly grocery fliers and plan meals around the meat specials.

    Without a list, I ALWAYS forget something.

    Smile

  6. mbkonef Says:

    I am definitely a fan of lists. I always keep a running list on the side of the refridg. so anyone can add to it when they see something is running low. However, I don't feel that I absolutely cannot buy anything not on the list. If something is on sale for a great deal, espec. if I can combine it with a coupon and it is something we would use, I definitely buy it. I have started writing things on the list as I open the last one in pantry (like ketchup, mustard etc.) This means I have several weeks to buy it on sale before we will need more so I can afford to wait for a good price. I also scan the weekly adds and add to the list anything that is a really good deal that I can stock up on. Finally, I don't use the list to plan my menu - more like to keep up my inventory. If chicken is on sale this week, I buy chicken but I buy enough for several weeks so we can have chicken this week but also the pork, beef etc. that I bought on sale in previous weeks.

  7. tklahn Says:

    Sounds like you're doing great with grocery spending!

    I like lists just for things that we're running out of. I make my menu based on what we have on hand and the basics that we need to replace.

    Feeding those teens is a challenge!

  8. monkeymama Says:

    Definitely do the list thing, but being flexible as well. If we see something on sale we could always decide at the last minute to change the list!

    If the no list thing is working out for you though, so be it. I honestly would just have no idea what we would need if I went listless. LOL. It's less of a temptation thing, more of a preventing the "doh I forgot the bread and have to make another trip" moments. Wink

  9. momandmurray Says:

    Seems from all the comments that I need to try the list system again. I tried several years back, but failed horribly. I put a sheet of paper on the frig for items that we needed. The idea was for things we were getting low on or new ideas for meals. The sheet was filled daily with items like: oreos, ice cream, game cube games, x-box, hummer, lamburgini, blonde 5'10'' 36-24-36, etc.
    After several weeks, I think there might have been one actual thing we needed put on the list. My hubby even joined in on the list of things he wanted. I am in great hopes the blonde was added by one of the boys and not my hubby. But, I can't be 100% certain.

  10. JanH Says:

    I do both. I have a list of things we need to replenish. I also peruse the sale items from the weekly mailouts and make a list of sale items to stock up on. Either way, I have to use the lists! I am so absent minded if I don't. Sounds like you are doing great with feeding a fairly large group each week on 158.00! Also, sounds like your group has a great sense of humor.

  11. momandmurray Says:

    I take the weekly sales ad, circle all the really good sales items that we will use with a magic marker. If it is an item, I think I have a coupon for, then I put a check mark by it. I don't make a list of the sales items because I take the circular with me and let the little ones "read" the items we are looking for at the store. It keeps them entertained. If I am lucky enough to not take them with me on my run to the grocery store, they "read" the items when they help put the new groceries up. They are great at reading the pictures.

    Yes, they have a sense of humor. Their humor is why I know longer take them with me to the store. Cart racing in the aisles, acting blind, yelling down the aisles about needing tampons, asking loudly if my constipation problem is still occuring, asking the clerk if we can trade a small kid for the groceries, acting like they are licking the ice off the freezer section doors, pushing the 16 year old "IN" the cart, etc. Such is my world!!!

  12. reflectionite Says:

    honestly i think you're doing a great job. If you are feeding 9 people on $158 (of course not including meat) then you're doing a lot better than my BF and I. I would say that $158US is about $220AU, or thereabouts. My BF and I spend around $140 AU on groceries and meat, and that is for only two people. I use a list, but they dont work for everyone. If you've been doing this for yonks, then you would certainly know how to plan meals in a second judging by what is on special. I say keep doing what you're doing, it seems to be working fine. if you say you've never had anything go out of date, then there really isnt anyway that you can reduce the bill unless you decide the whole family needs to go on a diet!

  13. momandmurray Says:

    Speaking of diets! Diets are very expensive. The more fruit, fresh vegtables, and lean meats you buy, the higher the food bill. Sad that carbs are cheap and healthy food is expensive.

    My success in lower food bills is mainly to coupons. I am a massive coupon user. I get coupons from everyones Sunday papers that I know don't use them. I get a great deal from my hubby's single friends. My mom and grandma send me the ones they don't use every few weeks as well.

    Plus I love the fact that you can print so many coupons off the internet now. Unfortunately, my favorite store will not take coupons printed from the computer. Apparently, some people were making copies of the coupons and getting tons of products. So, I can only use them at one of the groceies stores that I only visit a few times a month.

    If I haven't saved at least 30% off my total at the grocery store with coupons, then I have failed miserably that trip. My all time best trip to the store happened a few years back. I went to just use coupons and not to buy any staples or meat products. They double coupons here for 50 cents or less. I bought 114 items totaling 96.10, with coupons totaling 93.50. I only paid 7.17, Most of it was sales tax. I was thrilled.

    Silly, but I really felt like I had won the lottery that day.

  14. reflectionite Says:

    unfortunately where i live there isnt a lot around with coupons, we get a monthly "coupons" newspaper (nothing else but coupons) but other than that there isnt a great deal. i am using a coupon to get $100 off a car tint, and usually you can get cheap landscaping services. of course i usually scour the junk mail for any good specials but the only place to really take a lot off my grocery bill is the growers markets and sometimes if you make a list (this is one of those times when i really need a list!) and go to one of those discounts stores like crazy clarks you can get cheap dishwashing liquid, soap, etc.

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