Strategies to Savings: Step #2

by Katie on November 3, 2009

Menu Planning

How many times have you looked in the pantry at 5 o’clock searching for something to throw together for dinner? Then you inevitably end up ordering pizza! I have totally been there! I am ashamed to admit that I used to run to the grocery store almost every day. I just couldn’t get it together! I would try to come up with an idea for dinner on my drive home from work, then I would try to remember everything I needed for that recipe. I would always forget an ingredient or find I already had some of the ingredients at home! Ugh…that used to drive me insane.

Going to the grocery without your weekly list is death to your grocery budget! You run in to pick up stuff for dinner, and always leave with a few extra things. I always said I couldn’t get out of the grocery store for less than $20.

Eventually when I started this whole coupon adventure I realized I had to have my coupon/deal list together, so…why not make my menu plan/shopping list at the same time. What a great idea, huh? I don’t know why the genius thought of a real menu plan had never popped into my brain? I guess I liked to see what I was in the mood for that day.

What I do is sit down with my grocery ads, a pen, paper, and our calendar every week (or you can do it for every 2 weeks or a month) and plan it out. I figure out what days I am too busy to cook a big meal and so on… If you know every Wednesday is rushed because of church obligations then don’t plan to make a gourmet meal. Maybe stick to soup and grilled cheese. I do a lot of freezer cooking, so when I have a busy night making cakes I try to pull something out of the freezer since I know I won’t have time to really cook. If you know Monday’s are free, try out a new recipe or cook something that is a little more time consuming. You get the idea, right? Basically, you want to avoid setting yourself up for failure!

Another thing I take into account when I make my menu is what is on sale that week. If I know that apples are on sale, then I will buy apples not grapes. If chicken is on sale I buy chicken, not beef! Just try to be conscious of prices, that’s all!

One more way to save is to stretch ingredients. If you put tacos on your menu and are going to be buying sour cream, make sure you have another meal that week that will use it up. I will try to make hashbrown casserole, chicken chimichangas, or chicken and rice the same week. I know it is only a few bucks, but it really adds up! If you make spaghetti, mix up the leftovers and make baked spaghetti another evening! I could go on and on…but, you are smart, you can figure out some more ideas :)

A huge component to saving is to incorporate some cheaper meals every week. Now, just because they are cheaper doesn’t mean your family will notice. A favorite for many is breakfast for dinner. Who doesn’t love pancakes, eggs, and bacon? Make a big pot of soup and serve with warm, crusty bread or a green salad. How about a casserole? See, there are all kinds of inexpensive ideas! I try to incorporate at least one of these a week!

Now, sit down and plan out your menu for the week, keeping in mind:

1.What is on sale this week

2.What you already have on hand

3.What your schedule looks like this week

4.What inexpensive meals your family enjoys

You’ve got your menu now, so go ahead and write out all the ingredients you need and head to the store! Try to buy only what is on your list!

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