Planning Ahead Series {Part 3}: My Monthly Master Grocery List

Planning Ahead Series Part 3 Feature Image

I’ve always been a planner and list maker. It’s a problem really. I pretty much have an addiction to the satisfactory feeling of crossing things off a list. I’m working on it, I promise.

Add in the fact that I’m the Country Wife here at Country Wife Chronicles and my work-at-home lifestyle and rural living pretty much requires organization and planning ahead.  

The past two weeks here at CWC have been all about Planning Ahead.

First, I shared with you how I manage to plan meals and grocery shop a mere two times every single month.

Then, I shared with you the intricate details of my two-week meal planning system.

Today, we have arrived at tackling the grocery-shopping giant. And I won’t sugarcoat it for you. By choosing to only shop two times a month, the list is big. Less trips to town equal bigger hauls to bring home.

I’ve done my fair share of experimentation when it comes to grocery lists. I’ve done everything from an app on my phone to a scribbled down list on a sticky note. Since moving into this twice-monthly shopping plan my grocery list has developed into something a bit more detailed.

You can download your own version of my monthly grocery list here:

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From Meal Plans to a Grocery List

So the first thing you might notice is that my grocery list is set up for an entire month.

“What gives? I thought you shopped for groceries twice a month?”

Well, yes, I do. But I decided to create a master grocery list that I print out only once a month. This list has my staples on it that I get every two weeks as well as those items I may only pick up once every couple of months. The secret is in the highlighter. Two colors for two trips a month. Problem solved.

So now that you have your two-week meal plan done, you are ready to plan your next grocery trip. For me, that looks a little something like this…

After my last grocery trip of the month, I print out my Monthly Master Grocery List and put it on the fridge. I have a highlighter nearby in which Wildland Man and I will highlight items we realize we need as we run out of them.

After sitting down to make my latest two-week meal plan, I’ll grab that Monthly Master Grocery List from the fridge and highlight the specific items I need for the next go-round of recipes.

Of course, as I planned the meals I made sure to assess what I already have on hand so I don’t put every ingredient of every recipe on my list, just whatever items I need to pick up.

Generally, the day or so before I am heading to town I’ll take a quick look at my stockpiles of nonperishables and add anything else to the grocery list I’m in need of.

And then… I’m ready to shop.

The real trick in utilizing this Monthly Master Grocery List is to customize it to your specific needs.

On my list, I have other indicators for items I need to pick up at specific stores. For example, I put stars next to items I like to get at Sam’s Club in bulk. Most of the other items I pick up at my local Kroger.

You just need to find what works for you by giving it a try and not being afraid to test out different options.
Planning Ahead Master Grocery List

Healthy Grocery Shopping

Part of the reason I shifted to a Monthly Master Grocery List was because I am trying to make a transition into healthier eating.

I discovered this gem of an idea after listening to a podcast by Chalene Johnson. Chalene is a health and fitness guru, and a super organized entrepreneur as well. She shared her actual grocery list as a template because readers were requesting it so often from her. Chalene’s grocery list spreadsheet was the inspiration behind my spreadsheet format for my list. 

Over time our Master Grocery List has grown, partly because I’ve adjusted it to cover a month’s worth of groceries, but also because I’m in the throws of changing how we eat. So I include lots of notes and brands to look for on my actual shopping list.

In our shift to eat a bit healthier, I’ve discovered several suggested grocery lists out there on the Internet. I’m partial to the following:

I’m not typically very brand loyal. However, in making this transition to real, healthy food options, I’ve been trying out many of the suggested brands on these shopping lists. In so doing, I’m learning what I like and what I don’t. And I’m also learning how to navigate food labels for when I do shop the off-brand items in the future. It is my intent to not remain brand loyal whenever possible. One of the biggest tips to saving money in grocery shopping is to not be brand dependent.

I have also set up my Monthly Master Grocery List by department of most grocery stores. And I simply try to leave off the not-so-healthy options and departments from my list. You’ll notice the fresh produce, meats, frozen, and dairy departments are a much larger chunk of the document than the center aisle staples. By setting up my grocery list this way, I can start with the nonperishable sections of my grocery list and end with the fresh items just before checking out.

Planning Ahead Series: Master Grocery List Image

Another perk of a detailed grocery list? I’m a believer that it saves you money! When I take this Master Monthly Grocery List into a store, I’ve got a lot to get and it is all laid out in front of me. I stick to my list, without going off-script, and I don’t get caught up in impulse or convenience buys.

Can I let you in on a little secret? I’m sensing a bit of insecurity as I’m typing out this post…I’m kinda wondering if sharing these intimate details of my meal planning and grocery-shopping process should embarrass me. Maybe I’m weirder than I thought? Or maybe, just maybe, there is someone else out there that is on my same brain wavelength. I guess that is yet to be determined… Well, regardless, the info is out there now, so if you feel like you can use it, enjoy! And if I’m just a crazy lady who overanalyzes her grocery shopping, well, I guess I’ll just own that! But I digress…back to the topic at hand…

Go ahead and print yourself a Monthly Master Grocery List, grab a highlighter and give it a try. And, absolutely, feel free to customize to your heart’s desire. Adding in your own favorites, adjusting items on the list as needed…Go crazy, girl, it’s your list now, not mine.

Monthly Master Grocery List Download Graphic

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Did you miss my post on meal planning for two weeks at a time? Check it out here:  Planning Ahead {Part 2}: Meal Planning Basics

Looking for other tips on how to plan meals and grocery shop just a couple times a month? Don’t forget to read Planning Ahead {Part 1}: How I Plan Meals and Grocery Shop Just 2 Days a Month!

And if you are curious, be sure to check out the Country Wife Chronicles Instagram Page where I often drop photos of our current eats and dishes…just real life.

Would you please consider joining in on the conversation by commenting at the bottom of the page? I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the following:

  • What does your current grocery list look like?

  • Do you prefer a shopping list on your smartphone or a specific grocery app? I’ve tried both and keep coming back to the paper and pencil method. But I’m open to being convinced otherwise…do share!

  • How does having a grocery list help you to make healthier choices?

Be Still & Know…

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