Organize your grocery shopping list

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old fashion couple grocery shopping
There's nothing old-fashioned about having an organized grocery list
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Learn how to organize a grocery shopping list to get out of the supermarket

If I asked a 100 people, probably only a handful actually like grocery shopping. Why? The typical trip to the market takes a lot longer, and costs a lot more, than any of us want -- or expect.

But if you learn how to plan your trip in advance, you can check "Organize grocery shopping list" off your "to-do someday" list -- and save money in the process.

Start with what your family likes to eat, needs to use

A lot of grocery shopping tips start with the coupons. But it seems silly to me to waste time clipping coupons or looking for ads for things your family doesn't need or like. Sure, you see people of TV coupon shows buying almost anything just because they have a coupon, but I have no desire to fill my home and pantry with piles of candy or hemorrhoid medicine just because it's cheap or even free!

So start by creating a basic list of things you're likely to use. Using categories like "Produce", "Breakfast Food" and "Cleaning Products" will make it easier to think about what to add.

Print or copy this list, keep one copy at home to help with future shopping trips, and keep a copy with you whenever you head to the store. I'll tell you why later.

Gather your coupons

Coupons are not only a good way to save money, they also help you organize your grocery shopping trip. They can help you stock up while things are cheaper, making future shopping trips shorter. And they can help you focus on exactly what you need and want to buy.

Put your coupons into a three-ring binder, using the kinds of dividers usually used for baseball cards, or pocket pages designed for photo albums.  Sort coupons by categories using page divider tabs, then put coupons on the same product into the same pocket.

Look at the sales

Unless you're serious about extreme couponing, or live close to many different stores, it doesn't make sense to run from store to store to save a few cents or even a couple of dollars off your grocery bill. So limit your review to one or two stores.

Match your coupons to the sales, pulling the coupons you will use and paper-clipping them right to your ad.  Don't start writing until you've finished this.

Make your list

Many larger stores have an aisle by aisle map of their stores available near the weekly ads, in customer service or on their website. If your store does, use this map to make your shopping list. Look at the map, and determine if you need anything from that aisle.

If your store doesn't offer a map, create one of your own. Then write down the item(s) you need by the aisle.

Put a star or other mark next to the items for which you have coupons, putting the coupons in the same order as your list. Clip your coupons together once you have your list done.

Head for the store

When it's time to go shopping, it's time to gather a few things together. Make sure you have your grocery shopping list, your binder of coupons, your list of things your family uses, an envelope, and a pen.

Be kind to the earth, and take along enough reusable grocery bags, too. Clip your list to the front of your binder, with the family list right behind it.

Start in the first aisle, and follow your list. As you use coupons, put them into the envelope. If you see what seems like a great deal on something not on your list, check your family list. Is it something they can use? If so, check your binder for a coupon. Then decide if it's a good idea to stray from your list and buy it.

Do make sure to check for your store's close-outs area, and compare the items with your shopping list and your family list. And of course, see if you have a coupon for whatever you decide is a great deal on the clearance rack.  Between the sale and the coupon, you might just get it for free!

Why "organize grocery shopping lists" should be a priority

All of these steps might seem overwhelming, but trust me, the time and money you can save will make it worth the effort. You just might find time to enjoy a stop at the local bookstore -- and with the money you save, the newest best seller might be the perfect reward.

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