There are so many ways to create a grocery list. Many folks use a master list. Some people check the pantry and refrigerator or work from a menu plan.
Those techniques are perfectly valid. I've used many of them myself.
But I am doing something so much simpler these days, that is both working effectively so that I don't run out of food and saving me money.
I called my grocery list trick Dots and Stars.
As I run low on an item, I add it to my grocery list. My family does the same. Even my six year old knows that if you don't put cereal on the list, you eat toast for the next week.
After I make a weekly menu, I add food from the menu that is not on hand to my grocery list.
When I look at the sales flyer or coupons about to expire for things that I buy anyway, I add those items to my grocery list.
If you use a master list, you can just check these same things off on the master list.
As I do those additions to the grocery, I employ the Dots and Stars technique.
Dots: Dots go next to items that I will need, but can afford to wait on until they go on sale. These items will eventually become stars or undesignated, but they are extremely flexible right now.
For example, I just opened my last pack of razors. I can wait a while to get razors, but definitely want more when they go on sale.
I also just finished all the ice cream in the house. Ice cream is a treat and only purchased when it goes on sale, so as I finish the product, it goes on the list with a dot.
TIP: Get into the habit of marking any item on your planner's list as you run out of it.
Stars: Stars go next to items that I need to buy this week, no matter the cost. These items are not flexible, and must be purchased.
For example, milk and bread almost always get stars. In addition, if I volunteered to make brownies for the school bake sale and have none on hand, brownies go on the list. Diapers would go on this list.
No Designation: Most items don't get a designation. That means I buy them if they are reasonably priced or substitute in something that is reasonably priced. These items are somewhat flexible.
For example, apples might go on the list. But if apples are not cheap enough, I might end up buying bananas instead.
I might have a lot of hamburger meat in the freezer and plan to make an enchilada casserole. But if the peppers look iffy and hamburger buns are on sale, we might make cheeseburgers instead.
Just like using a planner to make decisions on the front end, this sort of grocery list lets me make some decisions (dots - defer until on sale; stars - buy this week) on the front end, and lets me know what decisions to make when in the store and faced with more information about price and quality.
Front end decisions save time, money, and stress in the grocery store and in life!