Putting together a grocery list ahead of time accomplishes a few things. If you’re working on a budget, a list can help you make better decisions. The list can help you stick to your health or fitness goals, especially if you’re going to the grocery store on an empty stomach. It will also cut down on time you spend at the store, which is always a huge help when it’s Sunday night and Trader Joe’s is packed.

Making a grocery list doesn’t have to be a huge ordeal. It can be ongoing – keep a note on your phone or on your planner. When you run out of something or see a recipe you want to try, just jot it down. You can even use websites like Pinterest if you are more of a visual person. 

See what you’re working with

It’s a good rule of thumb to go through your fridge and pantry before you start planning what you are going to buy. No need to buy another gallon of orange juice if you haven’t even finished that bottle from last week! This is a great way to not only cut down on food waste, but also find inspiration. 

Map out your week

A grocery list is just an extension of your weekly plans. How much and what you are planning to buy is dependent on how many meals you’re going to make at home, what you’re packing for lunch, or who you are having over for movie night. By figuring out what your plans for the week are, you’ll be able to better plan out what you need to buy. This means you will get almost exactly what you need.

Consult your food pyramid

Obviously a big part of going to grocery store is buying food that you like and will keep you full, but another huge aspect is making sure you are getting your recommended vitamins and minerals. This means getting your fill, especially when it comes to the produce section. Make sure you have fruits and vegetables that you will eat on your list so that you are staying happy and healthy.

Try something new

Speaking of inspiration, make the week exciting by exploring new dishes or ways to transform your meals. This can be as simple as adding a new spice of flavor into the regular rotation or as complex as having friends over to try out a brand new dish. Whatever it is, don’t stick to the same old thing every week. You deserve some adventure in your life – even in the kitchen!

Make your list your own

Make sure your grocery list fits your lifestyle, not someone else’s. Do a quick inventory of your staple items and see if you need to restock. For some, a staple might be brown rice and kale. For others, that might be protein bars and ice cream. Whatever that might be for you, asses your current supplies and make sure you have what you need for the week.