I keep a well-stocked pantry and an accurate ongoing pantry inventory. A small notebook hanging out of sight on the inside door of a pantry cabinet allows me to quickly update the list as inventory is added or used. This inventory list allows me to see at a glance exactly what is in the pantry and how much there is of each item.

I keep a second list for items I will need to buy at some point in the future. Adding items to the list before we are actually “out” of them means that nothing on the shopping list is particularly urgent.

Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

I check the online circulars every Saturday morning for our two favorite stores. Usually there are some “buy one, get one free” and special discount offers for several items that are on my list… and I’ll wait for similar deals for the rest of the items another week. Or I may decide not to shop for groceries that week at all. Because of the well-stocked pantry, my shopping list is very flexible.

I read the labels on EVERYTHING I buy, and I buy whole unprocessed foods almost exclusively… whole grains, fresh fruit and fresh or frozen vegetables, etc. For us, soy is always an issue, but another reason I do not buy processed foods is because I’m concerned about genetically modified foods, trans fats, hydrogenated oils, excessive amounts of sugar and salt, artificial colors, and preservatives.

I take advantage of the individual store savings programs… the kind where the store issues a card that you must present to the cashier at check-out time. Most of the best sales on produce and whole food items are linked to these cards. And recently we participated in a “fuel advantage” program where using the card entitled us to discounts at a local gas station. Just by using the store card and buying the groceries we would have bought anyway, we were also able to buy gas for only $1.09 a gallon!

I always ask for a rain check if an item I want is on sale and the store has sold out. At the moment we have rain checks for ten pounds of organic butter for $1.99 a pound and six pounds of California organic red grapes for 99 cents a pound… both substantial savings over the regular prices.

Finally… I check the cash register receipt before I leave the store. It is amazing how often the sales receipt will show the wrong price or list the wrong item… mistakes that are easily corrected when the groceries are right there in the cart. One of the stores even “apologizes” for each mistake with a $2.00 coupon towards our next grocery purchase.

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This is a terrific post. I like your idea of keeping an inverntory list. I find that sometimes I over or under estimare the amount I may have of something, particularly dry goods and things I purchase out of the bulk bins like couscous.


Wonderful post and great strategies. I always ask for rain checks too. It’s amazing how many times the stores run out of sale items almost before the sale starts. I have really found a wealth of good information on this site, thanks for sharing.

Ben W.

I wish I was as organized as you are. Your pantry list sounds like a good idea that would mean no more guesswork when I make up the grocery list. That’s a great idea to check the sales receipt before you leave the store. I don’t think I ever look at the sales receipt again except on the rare times when I have to take something back to the store. All the prices on there could be wrong and I’d never know it. Thanks for the tip!


Wow, I’m so excited to find your blog! Kindred kitchen spirits are hard to come by these days of the open-a-can, microwave-a-dinner, and get in the fast-food-line society. I got a chuckle out of one of your posts about someone saying our style of life is ‘eating poor’. I use the best of everything I can find and am always on the lookout for better and less expensive and less processed source. This is not eating poor, but instead is eating the richest and best.


Thanks for being real ! It’s SO rare to read a blog that says anything close to “this is what works for me” instead of “Here is the ULTIMATE answer ;do it my way because *I* am always right!”

And your ideas are pretty darn good too :)


Hi Shirley,

You have such a wonderful blog, I’ve been exploring it for days now. I love your money saving tips on groceries, a lot of them I already follow.

One in particular I’ve always wished I did but have been insecure about, which is checking the receipt while at the counter.

I always feel SO MUCH pressure to get in and out of the line as fast as possible, and I’m not one to be good with numbers, so it takes me a very long time to scan over a receipt.

Quick Question: Are you especially fast at this and able to keep all the correct numbers in your head? Or do you have no problem doing what is needed even if the impatient customers in line behind you are less than polite?

Shirley (Choosing Voluntary Simplicity)

Colleen, thank you!!! I don’t check the cash register receipt while I am still in line. I pay for what I have bought… then I push the cart over to a quiet corner somewhere between the cash registers and the exit and do a quick check of the sales receipt there. If there are problems I take my cart and the sales receipt to the customer service desk. I am pretty good with math but I wouldn’t hesitate to use a calculator.


I was googling for information about cook stoves, I found your site and I now have been reading for hours and hours…. thank you for sharing your life! We are so much on the same page.


One thing that works for me is grocery shopping once a week. No more stopping on the way home from work to pick up one or two items. When I did that, I invariably found other things to buy and ended up spending more money.


I work a fairly similar system. Then at the weekend I pull out a couple of cookery books (different ones each week) and plan menus based on what I have in store to use up fresh and freezer food and then only buy any ingredients I am missing. That way we have a hugely varied menu and our grocery bills have gone down :)