Don't you hate it when you get to the supermarket and have no idea what to buy? Especially if you're hungry, it's easy to buy loads of food you don't even need, overspend, and then forget the essentials that you've run out of at home. Don't let this happen again — you should always be well prepared whenever you go grocery shopping. Planning ahead can help you cut back on time and money spent in the supermarket. If you're about to do your weekly shop, here's what you should never leave home without.

1. A Well-Crafted List

It might seem obvious, but having a good list with you when you get to the store can make the trip more cost- and time-efficient. Waiting until you’re almost out the door and quickly jotting down a list off the top of your head is almost as ineffective as not having one. A good list is somewhat of an art and, if you don’t take the steps ahead of time, impossible to create on the fly. It is a good idea to keep a list either attached to your fridge, or in your pantry. Being close by, you can easily write down whatever you need as you are running low, ensuring that you don’t forget anything when you get to the store and that you’re not taken by surprise when an ingredient is almost gone the next time you go to use it. There is one time-saving trick you can do right before you go to your store; for long lists, rewriting them, grouping your items by store aisle, will save you from wandering up and down aisles needless-many times.

2. A Budget

Just like a list, a budget is a must-have before even thinking about going to the store. With a set idea of how much you can spend before shopping, you can have a limit to stick to once you are in the store. As you add items to your list, you can keep a running tally of how much each item will cost (it’s probably a good idea to approximate by rounding up to the nearest dollar). Sticking to this limit in the store will ensure that you don’t have any surprises at the register. 

3. Use Up Everything You Have and Make Space for New Items 

The most efficient trips to the grocery store are ones where you can buy the supplies that you need in bulk when they are on sale, or if you have a coupon for them. It is important to use up whatever leftovers or ageing ingredients you may have in your fridge to make room for a large grocery haul. Don’t worry about buying too much of something if you’re getting a good deal on it and it falls within your budget. You can always intentionally make extra portions and freeze them. This way, the next time you don’t feel like cooking and are considering eating out or ordering in, you can save your money and have something healthier by heating up your frozen extras.

4. Reusable Bags

Reusable bags are becoming more and more popular as concerns grow about the impact that traditional paper or plastic bags have on the environment. Some stores have abandoned paper and plastic altogether, making reusable cloth bags the only option. Other stores stock paper and plastic bags but charge for them. Avoid having to pay for bags each time at the checkout, and help the environment, by getting in the habit of bringing your bags with you every time you go to the grocery store.