Using a printable grocery list is a smart way to save time and money. Here are my top tricks for getting the most out of any grocery list.

-- Customize it.

Most printable grocery lists are quite generic so as to be usable by a wide variety of shoppers. That's fine, however, for maximum efficiency you'll want to customize your grocery list to include the items you regularly shop for. Do this the first time you use a new list.

-- Keep it easy.

Next, there are a couple of options you'll want to consider.

1. One option is to print off multiple blank copies of your printable grocery list after you finish customizing it. Keep your copies in a folder in your kitchen so you can conveniently grab a new copy whenever you need one.

2. Conversely, you can print off just one copy of your customized grocery list and drop that copy into a clear plastic sleeve. By doing so you instantly make your grocery list laminated. Just use a dry-erase marker and you can use your printable grocery list again and again.

-- Go hi-tech.

Have a personal data assistant (pda)? Then you might like a downloadable grocery list better than a printed copy. A quick online search for "pda grocery list" yields positive results.

-- Train the crew.

The biggest challenge with any grocery list is getting everyone in a household to use it. After all, what good is a grocery list that's not ready to go shopping when you are? If you have multiple people in a household, there's no way that just one person can know everything that needs to go on a grocery list.

So have a family meeting. Point out where you are posting your printable grocery list and let people know that if they want things from the grocery store they need to mark them on the list.

Remember, you're still in charge of the list! Just because an item is on your list doesn't mean you MUST buy it. You have a budget (hopefully!) and it's up to the grocery shopper to make any final shopping decisions.

Nevertheless, it's much simpler to cross something off a grocery list than it is to read the minds of all the family members. In our household, the grocery list 'rules' are quite simple. If you open the last of something, write it on the list or it won't be there the next time you hungrily go looking for it. Our system has served us well for years.

-- Make your grocery list accessible.

All the training in the world won't work if the grocery list is not accessible to everyone who has a need to write on it. For example, do you have small children? I have a 7 year old who loves to have her say by adding items to the grocery list, so the list is kept where she can reach it. An added bonus is that a grocery list is a great place for budding spellers to practice their skills. (For a free printable grocery list, see the author's resource box following this article.)

-- The most important step.

Sometimes I hear shoppers moan that they did fine compiling a list at home but they can't seem to remember to take the grocery list to the store with them. I suspect we've all had that happen to us at some time.

This is a point worth pondering. Without the list, your shopping can easily blow your budget as well as take much longer than it should. So take a minute and think about how you can always insure that your printable grocery list goes with you to the grocery store. Write yourself a reminder note on your calendar or schedule, get a key ring that reminds you of your list, whatever it takes to jog your memory. For myself, I have one place I promise myself to check before I walk out the door. Shopping lists and anything else that needs to go with me go in that one place.

A printable grocery list WILL save you time and money, but only if you keep the list handy to use and encourage its usage by all family members. In fact, a grocery list is one of the smartest tools you can use in your arsenal to run a well-managed home.

Author's Bio: 

Colleen Langenfeld has been parenting for over 26 years and helps other moms enjoy mothering more at . Visit her website and pick up a free printable grocery list today.