Estimated reading time: 15 minutes
Grocery shopping expenses aren’t going to balance unless there’s a master food list incorporated into your master plan.
Creating a master food list is an efficient and frugal way to grocery shop as it frees up time and money while trying to balance a budget.
It sounds a bit off the wall, but you have to be on top of things when saving money on groceries.
What Is A Master Food List?
Easing into the grocery budget process by testing the waters for a few months with a Master Food List might be YOUR ticket to food shopping success.
If you’re anything like me, when I was single, I would tend to create the same recipes over and over only because it was easy, saved time, and kept me from lingering around the grocery store.
Food Lists Will Change
Once I got married, we decided to become a lingering grocery shopping couple with a frugal mindset, yet we were and still are working on cutting back on roaming.
This got me thinking the other day about how easy it is to overspend when grocery shopping, even if you have a meal plan and a shopping list.
Besides having a focused mindset when in the grocery store, you must stick to a food list that offers your meal plan all the staples.
In the UK, my list would have been small: certain vegetables, milk, eggs, cheese, pasta sauce, tortellini, sardines, bread, and butter.
I was and still am a simple guy, but once I got married, EVERYTHING CHANGED!
Our diet, as has our grocery shopping, has been all over the place for the past 11 years.
We’ve learned how to grocery shop, failed at many aspects, and then learned from those mistakes.
When one feat is conquered, another always seems to take its place.
Price increases on food come to mind.
Welcome to 2018, another year of working magic around a grocery budget, meal planning, and getting the best bang for our buck.
For grocery budget newbies who are frustrated about spending too much at the grocery store, a master food list may be the perfect starting point.
Think Master Food List for a diet, but this isn’t a diet- it’s a food lifestyle.
Grocery List vs. Food List
What’s the difference between a grocery list and a food list?
A grocery list can always be modified and easily distracted without personal limits.
Not everyone who grocery shops with a list uses a budget, and not everyone who uses a budget grocery shop with a list.
A grocery list is ideal as you progress toward grocery shopping and stretching the budget.
A food list is a master document of products you need in your kitchen regularly to create the meals and snacks you enjoy.
This type of shopping helps create a budget-friendly mindset for those starting out learning how to budget for food.
You might even be a dull food lover like I was in the UK and prefer a food list to not over-complicate your shopping experience.
How To Create A Master Food List
It has been years since we ran the grocery game challenge, and we have tackled many ways to save money on food.
Over 300 published articles on this blog are dedicated to saving money on groceries; it can be overwhelming for someone new to food budgets.
What is easy for some is terrifying for others.
Think about your child and the first time they attempted to do something independently.
Most likely, they were nervous, but with parental guidance, they did it!
Treat adding new skills to your life, starting from the most basic form, and move on.
This assures you to learn as much as possible without skipping valuable lessons.
Ways To Help You Ease Into Budgeting For Groceries
Since I announced the grocery game challenge would go ahead for 2018, I’ve had a few emails from concerned readers.
They wanted to know how they could jump into the grocery savings game without fussing over the extremities.
Consider this post an option for those who want to keep their food budget simple and grocery shop on tunnel vision alone.
The photo above of a Master List is just an example of something you can put together but on a larger scale to include all the foods on your list.
You could easily use the above as a weekly food list as well.
If you’d like a printable version, just let me know, and I’ll add it to my list of printable money-saving tools.
Reduce Costs Wherever You Can
It sounds boring, but shopping with a master food list, if you think about it, can keep costs down.
I’m sure by now you might be wondering what a master food list is or what it looks like.
Don’t worry. It’s not complicated and perfect for new food budget fans who want to simplify grocery shopping while learning.
- Create a food budget, whether daily, weekly, monthly, etc.
- Decide on the most popular recipes or foods that are essential to you each month and document them on a spreadsheet, or if you’re like us, using old-school pen and paper, brainstorm foods you enjoy and those you need daily.
- Write them all down and separate them by department.
- Print your list, put it on the refrigerator, and use this list as a master food list.
- Create a meal plan for your shopping trip using those ingredients
- Shop for ONLY those ingredients, nothing more
This food list idea is comparable to a meal plan, and in most cases, it sure is.
However, the difference is that this is an introductory guide for those who aren’t keen on meal plans or learning to shop frugally.
The idea behind having a master food list is that it keeps you accountable to only the foods that are a must-have in your household without deviating from your budget.
One of the easiest things that can happen at the grocery store is that you become a consumer lured by marketing baits planted in your face and under your nose.
Getting Used To A Grocery Budget
Building A Food List Takes Time
Once you get a grip on using a grocery budget for the first time, you can expand your food list to include other ingredients that might help create a new meal or snack.
You see, we are creatures of habit, so a food list that is simple to follow makes grocery shopping simple, budget-friendly, and efficient.
Some of you may have already done this or believe having a master list at all stages of learning how to grocery shop with a budget is beneficial.
Therefore, you might continue this way of thinking when it comes to food shopping and creating meals but expanding your options.
My parents come to mind now that I think about it.
Buying The Same Foods
They grocery shop weekly and buy the same foods and extras week after week.
Cooking was not a massive deal in our house, even though I hung around to learn from my mom.
British recipes are traditional at best, as our cuisine is slim compared to other cultures.
- Toad in a hole
- Sottish Baps
- British cinnamon apple pie bars
- British sausage rolls
- Madeira Cake
- Lemon Fridge Cake
- Cottage Pie
- Victoria Sponge Cake
Simplify Your Meal Plan
Creating a repetitive food list that you can choose from every time you shop helps keep life simple if that’s what you’re looking for.
My parents are frugal. However, they aren’t limited by what they can and can’t buy, but they still tend to stick to classics over and over.
- Roast Beef
- Mashed Potatoes
- Yorkshire Pudding
This type of meal happens just about every Sunday in our house.
There was no sporadic shopping in our household, ‘Oh look, Brussel sprouts are on sale, so let’s add a bag of them to the shopping cart’.
This is where a master food list comes in handy.
Keep a copy in your purse or wallet for reference if that helps.
If you are smartphone savvy, create a memo or document on your phone.
Brussel sprouts may be on your master food list, but consider foods outside of that list.
Avoid The Aisles At All Costs
Some of you may have heard about sticking to the grocery store’s perimeter if you want to save money.
However, we know that’s easier said than done and stores frequently move things around.
Sometimes, you must go down the aisles and if you aren’t stern with your grocery shopping goals, you can easily get side-tracked.
A food list will help remove the food drool attack when products are staring you in the face.
Never shop hungry and turn your recipe brain off.
There would always be a British cake in a tin on the counter every week in our house, but the same kind.
The kettle sits in the same spot with the same tins of tea bags and a coffee tin filled with grounds.
It was still this way when we visited after ten years of living in Canada this past June.
You wouldn’t catch my mom’s recipe book surfing much because cooking and shopping was not and still isn’t her favorite chore.
Benefits Of A Master Food List
For those expert budget shoppers, this may still be useful, especially when you find you are slacking off from your budget duties.
Returning to budget basics is always a way to reset your frugal mindset.
You still shop the flyer sales, use coupons, and do all the same things you’ve done before to save money while grocery shopping.
You Will No Longer Deal With Any Of This
However, now you will have a master food list to hold you up to your end of the bargain.
- No more looking where you shouldn’t
- No more questioning whether you need to buy something or not
- Less time spent wandering around the store
- More time learning how to use simple ingredients in different ways
- Creating a stress-free shopping experience
- Routine and standardization
Beating The Odds Of Frugal Grocery Shopping
Whether grocery shopping on a budget is a breeze for you or you’ve taught yourself how to overcome obstacles, you have conquered one of the toughest budget categories of all.
Saving money on areas in your monthly budget that you can control contributes to money you can use for other categories.
Passing the buck, but in a good way. If you can invest any extra savings, you know you’ve slayed the budget!
Don’t be shy be informed and arm yourself with all the tools necessary to control what you can and let go of what you can’t.
Discussion: What other newbie grocery budget/food shopping with a list of tips can you offer for readers of this blog post?
January Grocery Game Challenge
Join in the 2018 Grocery Game Challenge (GGC) but before you do, read The Grocery Game Challenge Rules and Print the 2018 Schedule.
In this section, I will post each week’s grocery game challenge blog posts for the month.
Free Money Saving Tools
Click, Save, and Print. It’s that easy!
This budget brought us to debt freedom back in 2013, and now I’m offering to all of you for FREE.
We still use this budget every month as it helps us to see our overall financial picture.
Don’t pay someone for these services.
I’ve done the work for you, along with some help from other amazing bloggers.
You can download the FREE Canadian Budget Binder Budget Spreadsheet in Excel. It’s FREE!
We use it to budget and, in large part a reason we could pay our mortgage off in 5 years; check it out!
Free Money Saving Downloads are fantastic lists created to get us on track working towards reaching our budgeting goals, and now we are sharing them with you.
Get organized with a FREE freezer inventory, meal plan, shopping list, price comparison list, and much more, all for FREE.
CLICK HERE to download all the free lists and our family budget spreadsheet.
So many free resources at your fingertips.
Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide
Everything you want to know about grocery shopping in Canada is packed into this amazing FREE guide that has taken 6 years to create.
The Ultimate Grocery Shopping guide is ongoing, with new informative money-saving posts added every month.
Even if you don’t live in Canada, there are some amazing budget-saving tips that will help put you on the path to more savings at the supermarket.
Share this guide with your friends and tell them about Canadian Budget Binder, especially if they struggle with their grocery budget.
The time is NOW to get started saving money on groceries, so please enjoy the many money-saving posts in The Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide.
2018 Grocery Shop Results
Yearly grocery budget for two + 1 Toddler 2018: $3600 or $300/month (The above total does not include the stockpile budget of $300/year or $25/month.
Points Overview (add any other sections you need to show us your savings or that you would like to track on your own.)
- Total Grocery Budget for this Month: $300
- Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs: $300
- Total Gift Cards used to date: $0
- Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0
- Total Rewards Points used to date: $0
- PC Points Plus Earned to date: 750,000
- Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0
- Shoppers Optimum: 995,000 points
Coupon Apps (add any other apps you use to save money)
- Zweet -$0.
- Checkout51- $1.50
Our Grocery Shop This Week
Below are the grocery stores where we spent our money this week.
- 2 x Sealtest Milk $4.05 each
- 2 x Jumbo eggs $4.99 each
- 4 x Natrel Whipping Cream 1L $4.95 each
- 6 x Natrel1L10% cream $1.95 each
- Bananas $1.57
Total Out-of-Pocket $51.15
- 10 x jalapeno cheddar cheese reduced Cracker Barrel 400gram brick $1.95 each $19.50 stockpile budget
- 1 x green cabbage $2.50
- 2 x strawberries $1.88 each
Total Out-of-Pocket $25.76- $19.50 stockpile budget = $6.26
Note: All totals below already have tax factored into them.
Note: All totals below already have tax factored into them.
- Total to spend this month: $300
- Stockpile budget 2018: $25.00/month
- Stockpile budget used this month: $19.50
- Christmas Reserve Fund: $35/month Jan $35 Saved
- Total coupons used this week: $0
- Total coupons used to date: $0
- Total in-store discounts this week: $0
- Total in-store discounts to date: $0
- Total spent this week: $57.41
- Total spent so far this month: $101.51
- Total over/Under spend this shop: under
- Total left to spend for the month: $198.48
- Total Spent To Date 2018: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $+Feb $+March $ + April $+ May $ + June $+July $+August $+September $+ October $+ November $ + December $
Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)
With another winter storm approaching, Mrs. instructed me to stock up on a few bits, so I don’t have to make a mad dash in a sloppy mess on the roads this next week.
You may notice we have a Christmas reserve fund as I’m following suit with Mary.
The reason is that we spent hundreds more this Christmas on food at my in-laws having to cook everything since they are unable to.
We couldn’t ask them to buy food, so we did it.
To be prepared for this upcoming holiday, we want to ensure we have the money set aside so there are no surprises.
I want to do a GGC post on reserves soon once I get all the ins and outs sorted because I believe it will help others break down their grocery budget savings plan even further.
Happy Shopping, everyone.
Coupons and Coupon Apps
Here are some great places you can find Canadian Coupons!
We’re finding fewer and fewer coupons in the stores these days.
If you notice I’m missing a valuable link, please message me, and I’ll add it to the savings list below.
Sign up for the Nielsen Canada Home Scan Program and earn rewards points fast to redeem for awesome products or gift cards. I did this in the UK and loved it!!
- Healthy Essentials Printable Coupons (Johnson and Johnson)
- Danone Coupons: Get up to $25 in coupons
- Clorox Coupons Sign up to print coupons in the Clorox family, which include Greenworks, Glad, etc.
- Kraft Canada: Sign up and receive recipes and coupons by email
- MySavings.com Printable Smart Source Coupons
- Proctor and Gamble PandG Sign up for printable coupons.
- Hidden Coupon Portals You Should Know About – I found this over at Save a Loonie, and you’ll want to sign up for notifications and check out the site so you get notified every time a hidden coupon is available from Save.ca, Brandsaver, Smart Source, etc.
Grocery Game Challenge 2018 FAQ’s
- Grocery Game Challenge RULES: Read the rules, and if you have any questions, email me or comment.
- Do you stockpile food? We don’t mind stockpiling items that won’t be affected by expiry dates or have long expiry dates, but not so much food any longer as we found we weren’t eating it fast enough. Stockpiling is still great and just one way to help cut your budget and save money if you find items you can buy in bulk at a sale price.
- Best Coupon Apps: Coupons are slowly fading, with mobile coupon apps being the biggest rave. Recently, the coupon site Save.ca, which mailed coupons to households, has added a mobile Save.ca app, joining other coupon apps.
- What is the Best Flyer App- Download Flipp from the Apple Store or get it on Google Play.
- How Do I Grocery Shop?:
Welcome To The GGC
If you’ve just joined The Grocery Game Challenge 2018, get ready to look at your grocery budget by learning;
- Where are you spending money?
- How much money are you spending?
- How much money are you saving every month?
If you want to learn everything I know about grocery shopping in Canada, check out my Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide!
You’ve decided to take control of your grocery budget. Now show me your shops and let’s get saving!
Welcome to The Grocery Game Challenge 2018!