Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Planning My Menu

One of my favorite quotes is, "Fail to Pan, Plan to Fail." I really think that is true in so many things in life. It also fits really well in trying to save money at the grocery store. If you take some time to plan, you can save money at the grocery store. If you have a guide for what you are going to eat, then you will be more likely to be successful in saving money at the grocery store. That's where menu planning can help you. I like to plan my menu's for 1 week at a time, but I know others who like to plan a month in advance, so do what ever works for you and your family best.

Here are some steps I follow when planning my menu.

1. Take an invetory of existing foods- This is really important because sometimes I get really good deals and already have items on hand. Some people call this pantry shopping. I like to know at all times exactly what I have in my pantry so I keep a list on the fridge and add and take away. This prevents me from having to go digging in my cabnits and deep freezer. I also like to double my recipes as I cook and so I keep a list of the extra freezer meals I have on hand and I make note if I want to use some of those that week.

2. Check and compare sale ads and coupons- This can seem time consuming, but it helps me save the most money. I also know that Walmart price matches so sometimes this helps me not have to go to several stores. I also like to match coupons to get the best deals. I will stockpile items that I plan to use later, if I find a really good deal. I also like to make note of recipes that work best with the items that are on sale that week.

3. Decide on your meals for the week- You can find lots of menu planning worksheets online, but I just use paper and pecil for mine and then type it on the computer. I have a notebook that I use for meal planning. It is a three ring binder and I use the following tabs: Chicken, Beef, Pork, Fish, Desserts, Breakfast, Beverages, Soups, Salads, Muffins. I keep my recipes behind the tabs and then I can just go looking for recipes that match what I need. For example, if chicken is on sale, I go looking in the chicken tab for a chicken recipe my family likes. I also have a tab for untried recipe that I want to try. I try to make at least one new recipe a week. The very first tab is where I put my menu plans. I like to keep old ones just to see what we ate later, it helps me make new menus. This took a little while to make, but now that it is made, it saves me so much time! I put my recipes in plastic sleeves so that they are protected and I can feel save to use them as I cook.

4. Make a grocery list- After I have my recipes, I make a list of the things I need to make each recipe and then I go pantry shopping and mark those items off of the list since I have those on hand.

5. Match coupons - I like to make sure I have all my coupons ready that I plan to use before going to the store. Get those ready and have those ready with your list so you can go shopping.

6. Go Shopping- If I plan my menus, I am so much more likely to not have to go back during the week and this not only saves me money, but time.
That is pretty much what I do as I plan my meals. I hope you will take some time to plan your meals, it really does save money and time.

Here's my dinner menu for this week:
Monday- Corndog Casserole, salad
Tuesday- Crockpot Taco Junk, tortilla chips, salad
Wednesday- Crockpot Brown Sugar Chili (I'll make a double batch to freeze for another meal), Cornbread
Thursday- Spaghetti Casserole, garlic toast, salad
Friday- General Tso's Chicken, Baked Egg Rolls
Saturday- Eat out for my birthday!!!
Sunday- Homemade Pizza, here's the dough I use