Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fancy Schmancy Grocery List

Last fall my budget tightened by about $500 per month.
Because most of my monthly expenses are fixed (utilities, rent, childcare) the only area left to cut back in is food.
So, no eating out, ordering in, superfluous fancy cheeses or liquor for a while, obviously, but that still leaves me two eating machines (second and third grade boys), to feed….


First I took advantage of a quiet afternoon at work to plan out a month’s worth of menus. 
I used my Google calendar (added a new calendar called “Dinner”) because I check it from wherever I am (work or home) and I can also print it out and post it on the fridge (to minimize the “what’s for dinner/ but I want….” whinings).
See the screen shot at left .

Next, I designed an Excel sheet containing all the items I ever buy (when you’re on such a tight budget you tend not to stray into uncharted territory with kids).
I uploaded that excel template into my Google docs (so that it was accessible from multiple computers as well - see left).
You only need one at any given time, so you just revise your list for that week, print and save over it each time.
Here is a link to my template to start from.
It also uses fancy Excel math (and subtotals each department as well as gives a running total).

I designed the layout to print in long strips (see above) that are easy for referencing in the front of your cart.
October marked the beginning of slow cooker season, so that bad boy came down off the shelf, and the majority of autumn dinners (4 week nights a week) will be slow cooker dishes (which also tend to be pretty economical).
The first trip to the store I kept track of the cost of everything for the next list (and noted what I bought which wasn’t on the list), and crossed off things I could live without to keep within my budget.
This is an extra boring post but I was pretty proud of my list design (which matches both the little clip board I use AND my kitchen - see below).

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