My list of staples has grown shorter and shorter, the more I make things from scratch. It is wonderful to be able to simplify in this way. There are some items that I buy weekly (milk, produce, etc), some items I buy every other week, and some items that I buy monthly (mostly items that I buy at Sun Harvest, Sam's, and Vitacost). Because I know the prices of most things (through doing a LOT of price comparison), when I make my list, I know how much I am going to spend that shopping trip!! This way, there are no surprises. I definitely stick to the list, and don't buy anything else (because I have planned every meal and snack). I am slowly getting better and better at this (after working on it for a few years!). It is one way that I can contribute to our family, and it is something that I enjoy!
Check out my planning spreadsheet: http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=pIl6sWamBR06pzx8YQRNwPw. The only issue that I have with it is the need to make it perfect, so I may end up ditching it if it continues to complicate things :). I may end up just making a list, written, on paper. We'll see :). Computers complicate things much of the time!! Life was much more simple when computers weren't around (I say this as I'm typing on my computer haha!).
Some goals that I have are to not have to buy cream cheese, sour cream, or yogurt one day. But, for now, I will continue buying them as I can only learn to make new things one day at a time! The next thing I'm going to try is homemade "creamed" soups. I have been wanting to do this for a long time, and I have finally found a recipe that seems like it's worth trying! We will also be planting a garden in the next few weeks, and I hope that it goes well!! We are going to plant squash, green beans, tomatoes, jalapenos, onions, potatoes, and carrots. So, we won't have to buy near the amount of produce that we currently do, hopefully!!!
As far as personal care products, cleaning products, etc, the only things that I will be buying for now are razors and deodorant (because I can't make a anti-perspirant- I realize that it's not good for you, but I can' be sweating while I'm teaching jr. highers!! I will only use the store bought kind on days that I teach, and the one I use is a 2 out of 10 on the data base!); the rest will be homemade using coconut oil, Dr. Bronner's Baby Mild Castile soap, apple cider vinegar, essential oils, baking soda, Borax, washing soda, etc. I just keep a large supply of these items, and so much can be done with them!!! Also, on top of using coconut oil in personal care products, I will be using it to cook and bake with also. It has no hydrogenated oils and is cholesterol free among many other benefits!! I will write a post about it when I have time, and as I gather more information about it.