food shopping

For some, having a shopping list is a simple requirement when carrying out your weekly shop.

But how many of us actually look at our list as we shop? And how many make a haphazard list based on guesses and ideas we think we’ll need for the week?

It’s not uncommon to make a shopping list sat in the comfort of your armchair, without even glancing in the cupboard for food and meal ideas. If you’re looking to save money on your next weekly shop, the best way to avoid buying items you don’t need is by working from a meal plan.

Although writing out a meal plan for the entire week may seem like more effort than it’s worth, basing your shopping list on this plan will save you tons of money as well as reduce the amount of leftovers that go to waste.

Follow these simple tips on how to include meal planning into your shopping list and you’ll be surprised at just how much easier, not to mention lighter, it makes your grocery shop.

Meal Planning

1) Check Your Cupboards

Before you even begin to think about your next grocery shop, it’s important to double-check your cupboards and fridge-freezer to see what you already have.  This may seem like a simple idea, but how many people actually reach the shopping aisle and think “do I have any of x, y or z already?” In this situation most people end up buying something as a ‘just in case’ option only to realise they’ve now got double the amount they need. Instead of letting items like this go to waste, thoroughly check your cupboards before you start writing your shopping list.

2) Start With The Basics

Begin your shopping list by writing down the basics you know you and your family will need for the upcoming week. This can include staple items such as bread, toilet roll and pet food. It helps to buy these items in bulk and stock up your cupboards, especially if you see any of your favourite, imperishable goods on offer. Keep a list in your store cupboard that you add to when you use the last of something to make this part quick and simple.

3) Work From Your First Meal Up

Get the family involved and think of dinner ideas that everyone would enjoy for that week. Start with a single meal and write down the additional items you would need for that dinner based on what you already have in the cupboards. This is where your new meal-planning techniques come into play! From this one meal, think of what foods you will have left over and how you can incorporate this into your second dinner of the week. For example, a meal of roast chicken and vegetables will leave you with plenty of leftovers for a chicken stir-fry the next day. Then, add the extra ingredients you would need to complete this stir-fry – say, an extra helping of cabbage. Again, from this stir-fry, think of the leftovers you will have remaining and use this to create your next meal. Cabbage is a main ingredient to fresh coleslaw so you could maybe have fresh fish with a side helping of salad and coleslaw. This pattern continues until you have a full list of meals and ingredients ready for the upcoming week.

Smart Shopping

Buy Only What You’ve Listed

Now you have your list, it’s time to hit the aisles. Only, thanks to all of the ‘amazing’ deals and offers, you seem to have come back with twice the goods  you originally intended. After all your smart planning, it can be disappointing to know half these extra items will be sat at the back of your fridge, long forgotten and left to mould. It’s all good and well having a smart shopping list with you when you go shopping, but the key is to stick to the items on the list. Avoid the enticement of the sweet section and take your nose away from those freshly baked loafs. If it’s not on your list, chances are you don’t and won’t need it.

Shop Online

One sure fire way to resist the temptation of the many alluring supermarket deals is to avoid the supermarket altogether with an online grocery shop. Nowadays, online food shopping doesn’t mean having to wait days to find a suitable delivery slot or spending the money you would have saved on the extra delivery costs. Companies like Milk & More make online shopping convenient and affordable with their free, early morning deliveries.

Similar to your local milkman delivery, they provide you with standard groceries such as milk, bread and eggs as well as extras like canned food, fruits and vegetables and even pet food. Their lack of a ‘minimum buy’ also mean you don’t have to add additional items to make up a certain value basket. Simply create your online account and set up a regular order based on your family’s needs. Then, each week, you can add the additional foods you will require for that week knowing your shop will be free from unnecessary confectionary items and only contain what your family will consume.


Smart shopping for food is essential to be able to rationalise your spending. Its rules are simple: eliminate waste and get the best value for money.

Do you have any tips for smart shopping?

photo credit: ecstaticist via photopin cc