I've been asked before about how I make out my grocery list, or similarly, how I do menu planning. Typically, I don't have a highly organized list or plan, andI keep most of what I need to know right there in my noggin. Frankly, that's not a super-reliable place to keep information. That thing's like a sieve!
The best advice I give myself all the time is: Write It Down! Sometimes I have to force myself to stop what I'm doing so I can grab a pen or my phone or whatever I need to record my profound thoughts. Things like, "toothpaste" and "make cookies for Jeff's office". Important items I need to remember for my shopping trip. There's nothing more irritating than arriving home only to realize I've forgotten a particular ingredient or event to which I'm supposed to bring food. Recording what I need is preferable to finding myself muttering, "mascara, mascara, mascara" while my teen-aged daughter eyes me warily.
That said, here is how my twice-monthly list-making generally starts out:
My favorite pen. (Unless I can't find it.)
My day planner.
My phone. (This basically doubles my day planner - but I have to make sure they sync up because I may have written a note in one and not the other. And yes, I need both. Handwritten > digital. But digital is admittedly more convenient at times.)
And not pictured, though it's directly to the left, my laptop - for Pinterest.
So I look over my calendar and see what's coming up over the next couple of weeks. Am I making dinner for anyone? Are the kids going to be gone at some point? Are we having company? Any birthdays or other special events?
I ask for requests. (Why I bother I don't know: Spaghetti. Tacos. Hamburgers. Lather, rinse, repeat.)
I check Pinterest for old favorites and new recipes I'd like to try.
What am I in the mood to make? What haven't we had in a while?
I glance through my pantry and fridge to see what staples I may be low on.
I factor all of that in, then write down my menu on the right-hand side of the page. If necessary, I make a note of where the recipe is - cookbook/magazine/Pinterest, etc. On the left, I list out the ingredients I need to buy. I generally list "odd" items - things I don't buy often and will probably only find at Publix/Kroger - in the middle.
I don't use coupons. Practically nothing I buy even has coupons that apply, anyway. I'll hit up three stores on my quest to keep these people fed. Aldi is one of the three stores I go to - it's cheaper there than a regular store with coupons. Bulk purchasing and Aldi are so much easier than dealing with coupons, in my experience and calculations. Plus, ain't nobody got time for that.
I don't write an exhaustive list. Of course I need milk and bread, so I never list out those staples that find their way into my cart every trip.
This is just what works for me! I think the key is to plan ahead which saves time and money, and that's important for any family.