As you know, menu planning is something I highly recommend. Not only does it save us money, ends unnecessary stops at the grocery store, but it also makes our life much easier and organized!
Now, before I get into how I plan our menu I just want to say that my ‘system’ might not work for everyone. I hope that this will just give you ideas on how to plan for your specific family. After all, each family has their own needs!
Some families like to plan a 3 meals a day weekly plan, while others plan out a month of dinner menus and just choose a meal that suits their mood that evening.
But the bottom line is, you have to have a plan. Whether rigid or loose, a plan will save you hours of time and hundreds of dollars each year!
Now, I’ve been planning our menus since we’ve gotten married almost two years ago and I have found that this ‘system’ works best for me:
1. Take inventory. Scour the cupboards, the refrigerator, and the freezer for food items you already have to work with and use those as your starting point for the rest of your menu. Make up a basic outline of meal possibilities from what you find.
Maybe you have some pork chops that you picked up on sale, and you have some vegetables from last weeks shopping trip, and perhaps you always have rice on hand. Right there you could have a meal of BBQ pork chops, rice and vegetables!
As you are going through your pantry, fridge and freezer, mark down any items you need to buy more of. If you find you are low on milk or eggs or flour, add these to your grocery list.
**I like to jot down all my ideas on a small piece of paper titled ‘menu’ and on the other side I title it ‘grocery list’ to put down everything I need to buy. (I like to have my menu with me when I shop because sometimes I’ll forget why I’m buying something or it helps me remember to buy an item that I may have forgotten to write on my grocery list.)
**I like to use simple meals that do not call for a lot of ingredients as this saves on time as well as cash since I’ll most likely always have those ingredients on hand. (soy sauce, spices, etc…)
Tip: As you are preparing a meal, you may want to double it to put one in the freezer. It’s always nice to have meals in the freezer you can pull out when you don’t feel like cooking!
2. Look through your local fliers to see what’s on sale.
Quickly look through your fliers to see what deals your local stores have. Since I like to coupon, now is the time I’ll pull out my coupons to see which coupons will make the sales a great deal. For example, this week the Superstore has Europe’s Best frozen veggies on sale for $2.49 and they also have an in store coupon for $1.00 off making each bag $1.49!
I mostly do all of my shopping at the Superstore as I find they usually have the best overall prices. Occasionally, I’ll pop over to Buy Low Foods as they run great deals on chicken and other meats quite frequently. Shopper’s Drug Mart is where I buy our cheese as they run sales just as we’re running out, it seems!
When I find a great deal on something we use regularly, I’ll stock up as much as I can. This saves tons of money. As another example, Walmart just ran a deal on Campbell’s tomato soup for 0.50 cents a can, which I like to always keep on hand to make lunches a breeze or even a laid back weekend meal served with grilled cheese sandwiches. I’m good for a while now! I try to build up a very nice stockpile of ingredients to work with when planning our menus. Some weeks I only have to buy the basics like milk and fresh vegetables!
Next week, I’ll share the final steps I take to plan our menus and grocery shopping trips. Stay tuned!
Do you plan a menu? If so, what kind of menu-planning system works for you (monthly menu plans, weekly plans, loose plans, etc.)?