By Barbara Carr Phillips
Many people think personal journaling means writing a book of deep thoughts, but the most useful journals are simple notebooks that contain mundane lists, like grocery lists or to-do lists. I teach journaling workshops, and people are surprised when I tell them they can save over $100 a month by keeping a grocery journal.
A grocery journal will insure that you'll never lose extra savings because you forgot your coupons. Also, you won't ever find yourself standing in the grocery aisle wondering, "did I purchase ketchup last week or not?" Last week's list will be in your journal for you to review. You will save time and gas by avoiding extra trips to the grocery because you forgot items you needed. Plus, you will have everything you need for each meal, every single day of the week.
To get started, choose a small, spiral-bound notebook to use as your grocery journal. You want a notebook small enough to fit in your purse or pocket easily. Spiral bound is best because it lies flat when you are writing. Also, you can flip to the page you need easily and it will stay open. Be sure to keep a pen clipped to your journal at all times. Also, clip a large paperclip in your book to hold coupons.
Here is how to organize and use your grocery journal:
On the front pages of your journal, create price pages. Price pages are simply a list of items you buy from the grocery store every month with the price of each item listed after them.
To make a price page, draw four columns on a notebook page. The first column is the widest, and the remaining three are just wide enough to write in the price of an item. The first column heading will be "Item," and the remaining three column headings will be the names of the three grocery stores you shop at most often.
In the first column, list all of the items you typically buy. In the remaining three columns, list the price of those items at your three favorite stores. This way, you will know at a glance when a "sale" is really a "sale," or if you can buy the item at another store at better price.
Save a dozen blank pages after the price pages to use for menus. When your grocery store circulars are distributed each week, sit down with your journal and create the week's menu around the meat that is on sale. This will make cooking very easy.
For example, if chicken is on sale, serve baked chicken on Monday. Toss the leftovers in a casserole dish with a can of cream soup on Tuesday. Marinade a few a few pieces of chicken on Wednesday, then grill and slice them to serve over salad greens. Use the leftover grilled chicken to throw over pasta smothered with your favorite sauce on Thursday. The menus will become easier to create over time. After you create four or five weekly menus, you can simply alternate them.
Use all pages remaining after the menu pages for grocery lists. Date each list. Determine the best deals for breakfast, lunch and dinner by checking the sale items in your grocer's weekly circular against your price book and your coupons. When you find coupons for items, paperclip them to your grocery list page.
Stick to your notebook grocery list when you are shopping. Don't be tempted to buy other specials at your grocery store. Grocers know how to influence consumers to buy on impulse. That's why fresh baked goods are often displayed in the front of the store.
Remember, you don't have to create your journal in one day. Simply leave six to ten blank pages in the front of your journal for your price pages, and start creating your weekly menus on the next dozen pages.
Take your notebook with you every time you do your shopping for one month and price pages will create themselves. If you have grade school children who shop with you, they might stay busy helping you look for prices instead of begging you for the newest, sugar frosted breakfast cereal. You can also save your grocery receipts and fill in your price pages while you are watching television.
Saving time and money is a cinch with a grocery journal!
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