Step Two: Planning

In my previous post, I described how to create a food budget using your finances as a guide. Now that we’ve got that money ready and raring to go, we need to make a plan of action for the shops. It’s been well documented how shopping without a list or shopping when hungry can lead to poor food decisions. Going out after a meal or a quick snack is a sure fire to deal with one of those trouble zones. As for the other, writing a shopping list isn’t as difficult as some people think.

First things first, have a nosy in your cupboards, fridge and freezer and see what you’ve already got in stock. Use that as your inspiration for meals for the upcoming week, then add any other ingredients you need to complete this meal onto your shopping list. If you’re a bit stuck thinking of meals, you can always browse recipes books, foodie magazines or favourite blogs for ideas. I personally like to base my meals around a balanced plate of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, so I think about the source of each macronutrient in each meal.

Check you have enough dinners for six days (until the next shopping day). Most of us tend to be creatures of habit, so breakfast is often the same thing. I check I have all the ingredients to make my morning porridge, and if not, I add them to the list. Lunches tend to be the last meal that I think about, as I often batch cook using mainly storecupboard staples. I check the levels of those items, and add them to the list where necessary.

As I have been working with a food budget for many years, I tend to know what things cost in Sainsbury’s as that is where I tend to do my shopping. If this is your first time working with a budget, you may find it useful to browse supermarket online sites to get more accustomed to the prices. If you use predominantly independent shops, which I’m hoping to do more of this year, it might just be a case of trial and error. Add a little note to each item on your list for what it should roughly cost and tot them up to create a rough total. If that amount is too high for your budget, you might what to rethink a few meal ideas. Vegetarianism is often a great (and delicious!) way to keep costs down.

Ideally, after all the meals are taken care of, you will have a few pounds leftover for any extras. I think things like tea bags or dark chocolate or extra snacks fall into this category, you might not necessarily need them to get through the day, but they make the day that much better.


The first time you write a complete shopping list, it might take you some time. But like so many things, practice makes perfect, and it’s better to go into the shop with a scrap of a per with a few items jotted on it than going in blind.

We’ve got money, we’ve got a list and we’re good to go grocery shopping. My next post will be a collection of my tips and tricks to get the most goodness for your money. See you soon!

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