A grocery shopping list can be the front line tool you use in saving money on your grocery budget each month.

There are several more sophisticated ways to save grocery money, but none is easier or faster to implement than the lowly grocery shopping list.

Interestingly, this is a tool that almost everyone knows about, yet very few people actually use it in a systematic and reliable way.

For those folks who are not convinced of a grocery list's potential power in household management, here's what happens when you DON'T use one.

-- You lose money.

Without a grocery shopping list, a shopper is at the mercy of "what looks good" in a grocery store.

Believe me, if you shop this way, you WILL find something that looks irresistible. And costs more than you might have spent with a list.

Why? Simple. It is the grocery stores' job to entice you to spend money in their stores. That's how they stay in business. There's no problem with that. But it's YOUR business to get the best value for your money...unless you don't care how much you spend on your groceries each month.

In which case you probably wouldn't be reading an article like this one.

-- You lose time.

Using a grocery shopping list means you can enter your favorite grocery store, fly up and down the aisles one time, and be ready to check out in the fraction of time of another shopper who uses the 'browse' method of grocery shopping.

And if you're under the mistaken impression that you'll need to spend lots of upfront time figuring out what to put on your grocery list, well, you don't.

Hang your grocery list in a prominent place in your kitchen and train your family to use it. Then your list will be ready to go shopping when you are.

-- You lose nutrition.

Using a grocery shopping list means you get EXACTLY what you want at the store; and that includes the nutrition you want for your family. You call the shots on how much fat, salt and sugar your family consumes. You can decide to emphasize whole grains and whether raw vegetables, frozen or canned will grace your family's dinner table.

In short, with a grocery list, you are in control.

-- You lose efficiency.

Ever stand in your grocery store and think to yourself, "well, I know I need some frozen veggies (or broth, or canned fruits, or favorite mixes, etc.) to keep on hand for that easy throw-together recipe my family likes. But I can't remember what I already have at home. I'll just get a couple of bags of SOMETHING to keep on hand."

Fast forward to the night you want to actually COOK that wonderful food for your family. You discover you've got two bags of frozen broccoli and three bags of frozen stir-fry veggies, but what you NEED is a bag of frozen corn.

A grocery shopping list could have helped you bring home the corn. Without the extra stir-fry. Using a grocery list means you have what you actually need in your pantry when you need it. Plus, you'll end up with less throw-away food, too, since you're purchasing what you know your family will eat within a given period of time.

Bottom line, if you're serious about saving money at the grocery store, the first thing you'll want to use is a grocery shopping list. It's easy and you can start using one today. (For a free printable grocery shopping list, see the author's resource box at the end of this article.)

Whether you're a college student learning how to grocery shop for the first time, a newly married couple establishing a budget, or a mom whose family has grown and the grocery budget has developed a mind of its own, the place to start to regain control is the lowly grocery shopping list.

Author's Bio: 

Colleen Langenfeld has been parenting for over 26 years and helps other moms enjoy mothering more at http://www.paintedgold.com. Visit her website and get your free printable grocery shopping list today.