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Menu Planning Monday (but it’s usually Sunday for me)

July 13, 2009

I love SimpleMom.net. I love SimpleMom.net. Did I say that I LOVE SimpleMom.net??

Seriously, it’s almost overwhelming because there’s so much info, but there’s always some little piece of info that I can take away and I really appreciate that.

Today her post is about Menu Planning as a part of her “Back to Basics” series of posts. I would use the term “menu planning” really loosely in relation to what I do, but I’m going to talk about it anyway…

What Works for Us:

-I’ve been trying not to grocery shop every single week, so the weekly planning varies. If it’s a grocery shopping week, I look through the ads to see what’s on sale for great prices and use that to plan. If it’s not, I check the fridge and freezer to see what we need to use up before the next grocery shopping trip.

-When I do menu planning, I only plan out about 4-5 meals for the week. That allows for at least one night of leftovers and at least one night of just grabbing whatever we have or just pb&j.

-I don’t often coupon clip anymore unless it’s something we would normally buy. Otherwise, it seems like the coupons are generally for things we don’t use or things that are unhealthy. (Side note – to the manufacturers credit – is it me or are the coupons getting a little bit better at some healthier options with coupons? It’s still almost always very processed, but it’s a step in the right direction!)

-If I do coupon clip, I do it by going to the sites of the brands that we buy regularly and printing any coupons that they have online. I check every few weeks and usually find some great savings on things I’d be spending money on anyway! Otherwise, I find that having coupons makes me buy things that I otherwise wouldn’t buy and it’s not actually saving money to do that!

-We made a decision a while ago that it was important to us to try to do organic in dairy and meat and produce when it’s available and a better local option isn’t available. The dairy and produce aren’t unbearable, especially since we aren’t by any means entirely organic in produce, but the meat and poultry can get really expensive. Our solution has been to eat less of it. So, we wind up spending about the same amount of our budget. Plus – let’s be honest – now we’re really eating what one serving size of meats and poultry should be anyway.

-I usually do our Menu Planning and shopping over the weekend. It’s a ton easier to do it when I have time to grocery shop by myself. I sit down with my laptop and usually just open the store ads on their websites and pick the store that has the best deals in general on the things we regularly buy. I know a lot of people shop multiple stores for the best deals, etc. but I just don’t have time for that.  I refuse to go grocery shopping with both kids in tow now, so I don’t get a ton of time to grocery shop – it happens on the weekend or late in the evening during the week.

-To save some additional money, I try to plan at least one or two vegetarian meals a week.

-I found these great notepads in the dollar section at Michael’s with sections for meal planning for a week and another one with schedules for a week. I keep them on the side of the fridge along with our to-do lists and love to have them right there!

-My other favorite tool: ListPlanIt.com Oh how I love this site!! They have just under 10 zillion lists, but for grocery shopping and meal planning, I love to use their Weekly Menu Planner and their Grocery List by Category – it makes it so convenient to write down my list by the area of the store so that I don’t miss things and run back and forth across the length of the store at the end of my shopping for the little things I’ve missed.

-I’m getting better than I used to be, but a big challenge around here is using produce appropriately. There’s not a ton of method around here and we really need to get better at using the things that will go bad quickly first, then moving on to the produce that will last longer.

-When we assign meals to certain days, we’re loose with it. If we’re in the mood for something else we have planned for another day and there’s time to defrost what we need or it’s fresh, we just switch.

Do you menu plan? What works for you?

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