Do you want to save time and money and feed your family healthy home cooking? If so, meal planning is the way to go.
Basic Steps for Meal Planning
- Check out the store deals
- Plan meals for the desired time period
- Make a list of ingredients
- Shop your pantry, fridge and freezer
- Gather coupons
- Shop the store with your list
If everything works correctly, you won’t have to step foot in the grocery store for the designated time period and you won’t have to eat out!
This post is focusing on dinners, but if you need to do breakfast and lunch, write those down, too. Perhaps some of the dinners can roll over into lunches.
Coupons and Store Specials
You don’t have to be worthy of an appearance on the Extreme Couponing show to use coupons to your advantage. If you get a newspaper, keep the sale flyer(s) for your preferred store(s) and clip the enclosed coupons. If you don’t get a newspaper (or even if you do), I highly recommend joining Couponmom.com.
Coupon Mom is free to join and it has a variety of tools to help you make informed choices and provides a large database of manufacturer coupons you can print. It has the details on the specials at your grocery store along with Target and many others. It is super easy to see the real “sale” because there is a column designating the percentage savings for the item. (Just because the item is in a weekly flyer does not mean it is on sale- can you believe that?!) Another column shows if a coupon is available and sometimes a link to the coupon! This is all FREE people!!!
One of the easiest ways to get started with a weekly meal plan is to designate theme nights. Think about the food categories you and your family like. Below is an example week.
- Monday: Italian or Mexican
- Tuesday: Breakfast for dinner
- Wednesday: Meat or poultry
- Thursday: Meatless meal
- Friday: Soup & Sandwich
- Saturday: Pizza Night
- Sunday: Crockpot or Casserole
Write down your desired category plan. If you don’t like the theme idea, skip to the next step.
If you already have great recipes, get them out and make piles according to your categories (or do this electronically). If you need to find recipes, look through your cookbooks or search for some online. There are great databases like Food Network and AllRecipes, but sometimes the best tried and true recipes come from bloggers. Here are a few of my favorite sites:
- goop.com (for the more adventurous)
Match Recipes to Sales
Determine which recipes fit best with the items that are on sale and the items you already have in your pantry, freezer, and fridge. Make a list of everything you need to purchase. Match coupons, either from your newspaper or online, to sale items.
Also note other items that are on a 50% or better sale that you know your family will use this month or so. The idea is to stock up on useful items when they are on sale (even more so when you have a coupon). You can create a small stockpile which also helps you save time and money in planning future meals.
Hit the store with your reusable bags!
Do you have any tips for planning menus?