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Publication #FCS8933

Planning Meals: Use a Shopping List1

Claudia Peñuela2

Have you ever gotten home from the grocery store and realized you forgot to buy what you went for? Have you bought foods that you already have at home? Keep this from happening to you again. Write your shopping list before going to the store. Never go to the grocery store without your shopping list! The shopping list saves time and money. Gas for an extra trip to the store easily can add dollars to your grocery bill. And, the less you shop, the less likely you are to make an impulse purchase.

Make a Shopping List before Going to the Store

  • Keep a grocery list and pen where it's easy to use such as on the counter or fridge.

  • When you run out of something write it on the list immediately!

  • After planning meals and snacks and checking recipes, take an inventory of what's on the pantry, refrigerator and freezer and list those you need.

  • Determine how much you need and what can be stored safely.

  • Double check your staple items such as coffee, rice, and flour. If they are low, add them to the list.

  • Substitute foods when possible on your list after checking food ads and discount coupons.

Using Your List at the Store

  • Remember to take your list!

  • Stick to your list for added savings, but be flexible if you encounter sales.

  • Cross off items as you pick them up.

  • Purchase frozen and refrigerated foods last.

  • Check for any coupons. Compare the same size items from other brands to make sure the couponed item is the best deal.

Examples

Develop or find a grocery list that works for you. List can be organized according to store layout or by food group. Here are two examples of shopping lists:

Table 1. 

Sample shopping lists

Based on MyPyramid

Based on the Store Layout

Grain Group

Choose whole grains

_Bread

_Crackers

_Cereals

_Pasta

_Rice

_______________________________

_______________________________

Vegetable Group

Choose dark-green and orange veggies

_Fresh

_Frozen

_Canned

_______________________________

_______________________________

Fruit Group

Buy a variety of fruits

_Fresh

_Frozen

_Canned

_Dried

_______________________________

_______________________________

Oil section

_Olive

_Canola

Milk Group

Choose fat-free or low-fat

_Milk

_Yogurt

_Cheese

_______________________________

_______________________________

Meat and Beans Group

Go lean in protein

_Beans

_Fish

_Poultry

_______________________________

_______________________________

Other

_______________________________

_______________________________

Fruits and Vegetables

_______________________________

_______________________________

_______________________________

Canned Foods

_______________________________

_______________________________

_______________________________

Baking Products and Seasonings

_______________________________

_______________________________

_______________________________

Bread, Cereal and Grains

_______________________________

_______________________________

_______________________________

Frozen Foods

_______________________________

_______________________________

_______________________________

Meat, poultry, fish, and eggs

_______________________________

_______________________________

_______________________________

Dairy and cold Foods

_______________________________

_______________________________

_______________________________

Other

_______________________________

_______________________________

_______________________________

Footnotes

1.

This document is FCS8933, one in a series of the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences; Cooperative Extension Service; Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences; University of Florida. Published November 2010. Please visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Claudia Peñuela, nutrition assistant – EFNEP; Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences; Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences; University of Florida; Gainesville 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.