Are a Grocery List and Menu Plan Really Necessary?!

Grocery List

Grocery List

Well, it depends.  Just like most homemaking tasks, there are lots of ways to do things and rarely a one size fits all approach.  That’s definitely true regarding grocery lists and menus.

I used to go to the grocery store with a list and menu 99% of the time.  Once in a while I went without the list and hoped for the best.  I usually did that when I had run out of time or energy or I was just sick of doing it.  It rarely worked out well.  I usually ended up over budget and without the right ingredients to make anything.

These days I have three strategies I might use for any one week, depending on how things are going that week:

  1. No list.  No menu.
  2. A partial list of grocery items but no menu.
  3. A detailed list and a menu.

My preference is #3 but I’ve learned to make it work with #1 or #2.  But the only reason it works is because of our current way of eating.  David has IBS so he’s gluten free and low FODMAP.  As a result, our menus are very simple and I’m not making many breads or desserts like I used to.  As long as I have four or five different kinds of meat (chicken, ground turkey, salmon, 93/7 beef), fresh vegetables, fruit and some quinoa or brown rice, I can come up with a good meal.

Grocery List

However, even though I’ve gotten pretty good at winging it, for me, having a grocery list/menu plan is better.  It provides several benefits:

  • I know what I’m cooking each night of the week so I don’t have to wing it.
  • I have all the ingredients I need so I don’t have to make do or make an emergency run to the store.
  • I stay on budget because I’ve already planned everything out.
  • I’m prepared if we unexpectedly have company since I always try to plan one meal that will work for guests.
  • I serve a variety of foods instead of the same things over and over again.

However, there are other situations where it might not be necessary.  Like –

  • You don’t have a strict budget.
  • You’re cooking for one or two.
  • You eat the same things over and over.
  • You eat out a lot.
  • You’re good at throwing something together based on what’s in your pantry.
  • You like shopping the sales and having a stockpile you work from.

So are a grocery list and menu plan necessary? The answer is . . . .


Are they necessary for you or do you have a different strategy?

The following two tabs change content below.
Born in Kentucky, I am a wife and mom to 1 son and 2 daughters . I have an ink pen obsession, as well as a love for all things planner. I have been married for 10 years to my high school crush. I am a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Latest posts by Steph Caldwell (see all)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *