Practical ways to save money when grocery shopping and meal planning. Part of the Intentional April series from Day Designer.

Is it just us, or do you ever run to the store to pick up “a couple of things” and end up with a 27-inch-long receipt? We just can’t help ourselves. If the bacon-wrapped olives are on sale, we have to get them, right? Because what if we find the perfect recipe on Pinterest that involves bacon-wrapped olives, and then we come back to the store and they’re twice the price?

Let’s be realistic here: You’re going to go home from the store, break a record unpacking those groceries, and forget you even bought those silly bacon-wrapped olives. A year from now, you’ll dig them out from the back of the fridge, look at them all perplexed-like, and toss them in the trash.

Okay, that’s an extreme example, but that sort of thing happens all the time, and there’s a super-simple way to avoid it and save money. We bet you can even say it with us. Ready? One… two… three:

Make a list!

Right. But first: Make a plan. Sit down after your weekly meeting, and determine what your meals will realistically look like: when you’ll eat at home, when you’ll bag or box meals for on-the-run ease, and when you’ll eat out. Write your meal plan in your calendar and post it on the fridge for your family to see.

Next, sit at your kitchen table, and build your grocery list based on your meal plan. (Why the kitchen table? So you can easily check to see if you have already have any of the ingredients.) Then, add household or personal care products. Finally, ask everyone in the house if they have any special needs or requests for the coming week so you can avoid mid-week trips to the store. Use our free printable to help organize your list the way most grocery stores are laid out. Now you’re saving both time and money at the store. You’re a genius!

When you get to the store, only walk the aisles you need to. (Yes, we know Target has cute spring stuff out right now, but that stuff isn’t on your list and you’re trying to save money. Remember?) And whenever you can, grocery shop alone. The more people you have with you, the more likely extraneous stuff will end up in your cart.

Finally, stick to your meal plan. If you bought groceries for Tuesday’s dinner and then laze-out and run through a drive-through instead, chances are good Tuesday’s groceries will end up in the garbage. Now you’ve wasted food and spend extra money.

Plan. List. Shop. Work the plan. And save money…tons of it.

Have any other hints to share? We’d love to hear them! Leave them in the comments!

RESOURCE: Another great way to save money at the grocery store is by arming yourself with a great list. Try our Free Grocery List Printable! You can download it here.

P.S. We’re not sure if bacon-wrapped olives are even a thing, but we’re going to leave them on our grocery list perpetually just in case.

This post was written by the fabulous Kelley Hartnett. Thanks for writing for Intentional April, Kelley!