- Shop the aisles with an empty stomach
- Forgot to pack the snacks for the kiddos
- With a mind like this, who needs a shopping list?
- I just need a couple things from the store
- Oh, $2.00/lb is such a great price! This 15 lb bag will last me for a LONG time!
As a little girl, I remember my mom making lots of food from scratch, organizing a health-food co-op, shopping sales, and clipping coupons. She was amazingly resourceful with the money she had for food. With that precious memory, I embarked on my own adventure of saving money for my household.
In this post, I'll cover the basics of how I use spreadsheets to develop my bi-weekly menu plan, enter my shopping list, and stay organized. In future posts, I'll go into more detail about shopping with kids and the benefits of buying in bulk — with a plan.
My plan works for me, so I don't want to say: My plan is BEST, so ha! You may dread making a shopping list, so jumping in full-steam-ahead may not be practical. I pray that this post will help get your creative juices flowing to find a fun, exciting way to make a planned shopping trip a fun one. Even better, I'd love for you to share some of your own ideas. I love to find out how other people stay organized and under-budget!
As I see the items on sale, I start entering my meals on the top few rows of my spreadsheet. From there, I start adding items to my shopping list.
I'm using an Open Office spreadsheet. It functions the same as Excel, but you may notice a few differences.
Ok, enough nerdiness. I really think that a plan can help you save hundreds of dollars each month. If you are new to spreadsheets, I've found a series of You Tube video tutorials that do a great job of explaining the basics. Check out theese beginners and the calculations tutorials. They are EXCELLENT! If you want to go even further, there are other great tutorials for spreadsheets, by this same trainer.
Back to my spreadsheet. Here's my plan of attack:
Along the first row after my menus, I list the following column headers:
- Item. The name of the product.
- Qty. How many I need to buy.
- Kr. This is my "store special" column. In this case, Kroger had a promotion to get $5 off your order, if you purchase 10 of the promotional items. By re-entering the qty in this column (for the promotional items), I can add them up at the end of the spreadsheet and see how close I am to the goal of 10. So nice!
- Cost. This is the cost per item. We'll make a total later.
- Cpn. This stands for "coupon." I'll enter the coupon face value, if I have one available in my binder.
- Dbl? If the coupon can be doubled, I'll enter a "2." If the store doesn't double coupons, then I just enter a "1." This is also great if a store is tripling coupons, then I'd enter a "3,"wohoo!
- Total. This is my formula!! We'll go more into that in a minute.
- Department (dairy, deli, meat, produce, ingredients). Make this generic, because every store is laid out differently.
- Store. Where I'm going to buy the item.
- Highlight the table/chart (except for the menu plan). Be sure to include all the headers (ie, item, qty, kr, cost, etc)
- From the top menu bar, click "Data," then "Sort.
- After a pop-up box appears, select your search criteria. In our case, I've selected "Department" for the first one, then "Store" for the second. Then, click the "OK" button.
OpenOffice.org: I highly recommend downloading this suite of programs from Sun Microsystems. It's always free and works just as great as Microsoft Word and Excel. Sometimes, it can be a bit different than Word, but it's free. I've heard Clark Howard talk about it, too.
GoogleDocs: You can sign up for a free Google account and have access to GoogleDocs. Here, you can create documents and spreadsheets and save them to Google. This is nice because you can keep it completely private, share with a few users, or make it public.
* Disclosure: I've not been paid or compensated in any way. These are my opinions.
What keeps you organized, when you go grocery shopping?
UPDATE (Dec 5, 2011): Here's a FREE download of a grocery shopping spreadsheet.