Last week I shared about how I first begin planning the menu by taking stock of my pantry and searching the store flyers for sales. Now onto part two and the final steps:
3)Finish making out your menu. Once you have determined which store or stores you’ll be shopping at and which sales you want to take advantage of, write out your menu.
At this time in my life I do not plan out our breakfasts and lunches. I only plan for five dinners including side dishes, leaving one night open for leftovers and another for dinner out or a quick bowl of soup. I also don’t give each meal a specific night to be made since I like to cook for what I’m in the mood for that particular day. I try to have at least one chicken dish, a beef dish, and a pasta dish. (We don’t like fish!)
For breakfast, I like to have fruit, cereals, eggs, bread and the ingredients for basic waffles on hand. I’ll occasionally buy bacon but that’s usually only if it’s in a dinner recipe I’m using. Lunches are most always dinner leftovers from the night before. We rarely let food go to waste!
I’ll try to plan some meals which are a bit more time-consuming and some which are very simple. (Throwing something into the crock pot, frozen pizza, etc.)
You may want to plan out all three meals if you’re first starting out menu planning as you don’t want to forget anything at the store. The less trips to the grocery store, the more money and time you’ll save!
4)Make a final grocery list. Now is the time when I go over my list to see if I’ve forgotten any pantry staple, milk or item needed for a recipe. I’ll also put all the item into categories according to the store layout. Produce, meats, dairy, canned goods, personnal supplies…etc.
Since I love using coupons when I can, this is when I pull out the coupons I’ll be using and bring along some others in case I happen accross a good deal. I’m working on updating my current coupon organizer in order to bring all the coupons I have everytime I go out. (I’ll post about this next week!)
Make a list and check it twice!
5)Go shopping! I recommend going at a time of day when the store is not very crowded and you can take a time to compare prices or mark-downs. I try my best to get to the grocery store before 10:00am on Monday mornings. This is what works for me and I also find the shelves are well stocked on a Monday. I’ve found that when the store is busy I’m more likely to hurry therefore, I spend more money or forget something I’ve written down on my list.
You may also want to have a grocery budget and bring cash only. Having cash only forces you to stay within your chosen budget. I personally don’t do this, yet. We tend to get a lot of the same stuff each week so I know that I usually spend $50.00 each week, give or take.
Take note of all the prices as you pick up things and watch the screen as your items are scanned. Many times, something is scanned incorrectly. A lot of stores have a scanning code of practice (scop) that promises the customer accurate price scanning at the register on all UPC’s scanned. If an item scans in at a price higher than the shelf price the customer gets it for free (or $10 off if the item is more than $10) I happened accross such a deal when I bought some eye contact solution that was on sale for $7.99 but it scanned in at the regular price. In return for their mistake, I received the eye contact solution for free! I was a happy shopper that day!
There you have it! How I plan our weekly menus. Please feel free to ask me any further questions that you may have.
Remember that is how I menu plan and grocery shop and it works for us. How you do it and how it works for you may be completely different!