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What Works for Me: Menu Planning 101

April 29, 2009

6a00d83451c5ac69e20112791ced0428a43A while back I was basically forced into frugality as I was a mom on welfare after my daughter was diagnosed with Asperger’s and holding down a regular job became more difficult. I was desperate on how to hang on to the little money I was getting. Back then I had $150 a month to last the month for food. It was then that I became a menu planner after first really learning about planning from Laura at The Organizing Junkie. Laura may not know this but for me she was a godsend. I became a stalker of Menu Monday posts. Learning all I could from women across bloggerville.

So what does menu planning look like for me now? For me I find what works best is a weekly plan. That way I can take advantage of loss leaders, sales, and what I have plenty of in the house.For other women they may plan biweekly or even monthly. For some with really picky eaters they may just rotate meals.

On Thursday evenings we get the flyer’s ( this is also pay night for me!) so I etch out 45 minutes to plan my menu for the next week. I grab a cup of my favorite herbal tea and sit down at the kitchen table with my flyer’s, my coupon box, and my notebook and pen in hand.

First I look through the flyer’s looking for great sales that I can combine with the coupons I know I have in my box. Here in rural Nova Scotia I am pretty limited in my selection of stores and usually end up at either Sobey’s, Co-op or Walmart. I really like Walmart because they price match. When I am looking through the flyer’s the thoughts in the back of mine : is this really a good price? is this a food we eat regularly? with it pass with the picky eaters that exist in this house? Once I have my shopping list in hand in my mind and since I have a good idea of what is in stock in my kitchen, I am really ready to start planning in earnest.

I will use this weeks menu as am example. A couple weeks ago chicken was on sale so I picked up 2 larger value packs ( and divided into meal size portions before freezing), hamburger was on sale last week, and eggs are a staple here. Cheese had also been on sale. Pasta had also been on sale ( and I had a coupon). So now I know what ingredients I have. So what should they become, what recipes should I use?

I then walk over to my computer with my little list and some ideas. I pull up a file I have on my computer that links to hundreds of recipes I have bookmarked over time. I can spend about may be 10 minutes matching up ingredients to a good recipe that will fly with us picky people. Within 1 hr on Thursday evenings I have my next week planned food wise. For me a working mom this works because I can 1. Shop Friday  morning on my day off. 2. I go with a list and my coupons to grocery store thus saving money because I am not mindless shopping.3. I don’t have that last minute worry what am I going to cook for dinner.

For me a mom who looks for ways to save cents, this works and works well. What works for you? I am off to We are That Family to see what is working for you this week.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 29, 2009 11:50 am

    I started meal planning at the start of the new year and I’m so happy I did. I no longer stare into the fridge at dinnertime coming up blank at what to prepare. =)

    Great shopping tips! Happy Wednesday!

  2. April 29, 2009 10:39 pm

    I’ve been stockpiling and couponing for a while now, which has saved me tons of money. I’m not always great about meal-planning, but when I do it, it really does make life easier. I try to combine what is on sale with what I already have on hand. The best thing is when you already have something in the freezer, and all the work involved is just to thaw it out. Tonight we had “Slider Casserole, ” (the recipe is on Allrecipes.com), which consisted of a half bag of mini buns and meat filling I had left over from when I made it a month or so ago.
    More than saving money, I think having one less thing to think about each day (ie, what to have for dinner) makes life a lot easier!

  3. wherelifebecomesart permalink
    April 30, 2009 12:10 am

    You do it just like I do! I didn’t know walmart price matched though? Hmm I wonder if they do that here? I just wrote a blog about my grocery shopping, and I gave walmart a try for the first time.

  4. April 30, 2009 1:24 pm

    Bravo for a good post and for you!

    🙂

  5. Marcela permalink
    May 1, 2009 6:50 pm

    Great post! Enjoyed reading it! Helpful tips!

  6. mjdoyle permalink
    May 2, 2009 12:45 pm

    Hi! I saw you on Problogger and wanted to check out your blog.

    I find that if I don’t menu plan then not only do I spend way more money but I don’t eat well either. As someone who is following a raw food vegan diet it would be disastrous not to plan all my meals.

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