I begin the planning early, not because I'll be making menu plans 2 weeks ahead of the coming month, but because:
- by really planning my shopping, down to the last detail, I save money, lot's of money
- I add items to my list, as I cook and notice we're running low, this gives me 2 weeks to plan where to get the best deal on many items
- it gives me time to take inventory of some of the frequently used items, but might be overlooked as needing replacements -- shampoo, toothpaste, lightbulbs, vitamins, toothbrushes
- I have several stores I only hit once per month, and I don't want to backtrack later in the month, saving both time and gas
- each store has it's own "deal" items, priced lower than the other stores in the area and I want to take advantage of that
- one store is my bulk-buying store as they sell 50-lb sacks of some of my basics -- Cash & Carry. I limit going to Cash & Carry to just one or two times per month.
- one store I only go to once per month, even though it's super close -- Dollar Tree. I find DT to be a spending trap for me, too many hard-to-resist things there.
- one store gives me a 10% discount for being over 55, but only one day per month
- another store is now my go-to store for bulk bin purchases, but due to distance from my house, I only go there once per month
Every month, around the 15th, I get out a new sheet of paper, put a few headings (names of stores) on it, and clip to the fridge door. This is my shopping list. Items needed go under the appropriate store-heading.
Everyone in the family knows to write down items specific to their needs (like razors and hairbrushes). And when I notice we're running low on something, I write that down.
By beginning 2 weeks before the new month, I know I will take the time needed to seek out, and plan for, purchases at close to their lowest price in my town. I have time to identify "best" regular prices as well as check for coupons and sale/discount prices. I don't always get the very lowest price, but I do well enough that our budget and spending remains pretty low.
It sounds like a lot of work, but it's not. In fact, I believe I save time, by not forgetting items, which I always did when hastily making out my shopping lists.
Companies, large and small, have at least one person designated as the one to order supplies for the operation. It's efficient, with both money and time. I guess you could say that in addition to all of my other titles, I'm also the Supply Manager for our household.