One of the best ways to save time with holiday baking is to organize your shopping list. Sometimes it can be really confusing to figure out how to do this, but of course the best way is to organize it in the order you will go through the grocery store. The problem is that stores are always mixing up things on different isles. So, that might not always work.
The next best thing is to organize your shopping list by types of food that you will be purchasing; putting the cold foods last so that they spend less time in your shopping cart before checking out is a good thing too. So, try to shop in the order that best fits this purpose. The problem here is that many stores have produce on one end and frozen on another, so you may have to adjust how you go through the lines.
Keep a Running List
Even though you’re planning a special shopping trip for your holiday baking, it’s a good idea to always keep a running shopping list on your fridge. Use a magnetic clipboard to hold paper and pen, and each time you run out of an item that you know you’ll need again, write it on the list. This makes planning for shopping day a lot easier.
This is especially important for commodity items like milk, flour and eggs as well as things you purchase less often like vanilla and spices. These are things you are likely to forget or think you have, or you have something and buy more “just in case” when it’s not needed. Spices, for example, have a short shelf life so you really don’t want to purchase them if you don’t need them.
Read Your Recipes Closely
It’s really important to go over your recipes while making your grocery list. Read them over so you can add together the amounts of the items you’ll need. For example, if you are making bread, cookies, and pies, you’re going to need more of a number of items than you would typically buy. It’s important to add these items up to ensure you get the right amount.
Some people use a spreadsheet that will add the amounts up for them. Others use shopping list programs like the one Walmart has available or an app like ones available on Google Play or the App Store on iTunes. Just do a search and you’ll be surprised what you come up with.
Know What You Have
Your running list should help, but after you have written down what you need for your recipes, go shopping in your cupboard first, marking off anything that you don’t need. You don’t want to skip this step because once again, you want to make sure you really do have enough cinnamon, or nutmeg or vanilla to get the job done, and you don’t really want extra of dry spices since they don’t last that long.
On a side note, if you’ve not purchased sage since last holiday, throw out what you have and buy new. Your dishes will taste a lot better.
Gather Coupons Together
If you have any coupons, it’s a good idea to gather them together now and match them with items that you know you’re going to buy. This will help you save money at the checkout, and also it might give you other ideas of things to bake that you didn’t think of before due to a good sale. Be sure to note on your list that you have a coupon so you’ll remember to pull the coupon at checkout.
Finalize Your List
It’s really better to type your list out if possible. Today you can type the list off, send it to your smartphone and mark off things as you buy them that way. Or you can do it the old-fashioned way. As mentioned above, you want a good typed or well-written list that is in order of your grocery store if you know it well, or in order of the type of goods you’re purchasing such as Dairy, Canned, Fresh Produce, Frozen, Spices and so forth. Remember that “Dry Goods” in the grocery store is called “Baking Items”.
You can try the list of items here at Grocery List Maker to get you started. In addition, check your grocer’s website to find out if they have a list maker too. There is also a program online that is called Ziplist.com which helps you generate shopping lists from recipes. You will have to type in all the recipes, or you can find them online too, add them, and then generate the list.
Of course, if it’s “Mom’s Secret Cookies” then you’ll have to type the recipe in yourself. But, it can be a good way to organize your shopping list and next year it’ll be that much simpler.
However you choose to organize your shopping list, the important part is that you do try to take a list with you, that you’ve checked with your recipes, and with what you have or do not have on hand at home. The fewer times you need to run back to the store for a last-minute item, the more time you’ll save when it’s time for holiday baking.