Thursday, January 22, 2009

Menu Planning and Grocery Shopping

I have been menu planning for about 2 or 3 months now, and let me say that it has saved us more money then just about anything so far. This is the sheet that I made and have been using, it works really well for us, so I thought I would pass it along to you.

What I like to do for my meal plan is to sit down once every 2 weeks (usually the day that I get all of the grocery ads) and plan out meals for the next 2 weeks. I find that I waste a lot less when I start by taking a minute and writing down all the food in the fridge that is perishable and then pull out my cookbooks and try to plan out all my meals around what I already have. That way, I use what I have, less goes to waste, and my shopping list tends to be a lot smaller.

As far as filling out the sheet that I made, when you plan out meals, plan around your schedule... For instance, I used to have cub scouts on Wednesday, so Wednesdays ended up being left over night, or a frozen pizza; anything easy so that I wasn't tempted to just pick up fast food.

The column on the menu plan for ingredients, is great for me, because I like to find a recipe, write down all the ingredients needed and that way when I am all done planning my meals, I can go through my kitchen and check off all the ingredients that I already have. It makes it so easy to make my shopping list and I don't end up buying more than I need.

Well that is my Weekly Menu Planner, so if you want to use it, just click on it to view full size and print it out.

I also wanted to share some things that I have learned about grocery shopping.

1. PLAN your shopping trips
  • Do not make random trips to the store, I used to do this all the time and almost every time I would do this, we would end up buying stuff that we didn't need
  • Take a Shopping List and stick to it. It is hard to do but, if you don't stick to your lists, it always seems that when you get to the store you suddenly "need" more than you did before and usually if you didn't think of it at home, you don't need it.
  • If you did forget something and need to make a quick trip to the store, just get what you forgot, don't browse around. I find the more I browse, the more I want
2. Check the ads
  • Look for deals, coupons and ads can save you lots of money. I like to plan my meals around what is on sale.
  • Beware: Even though something is a really good deal, it doesn't mean that you have to buy it. So don't obsess over ads, because buying something on sale is still more expensive than not buying it
3. Plan for Lunches
  • I like to eat left overs for lunches, but my husband isn't able to go home for lunch, so we by him microwavable stuff. Just make sure you plan something for lunches so that you don't have to "pick something up"

These are some of the things that I have found useful for Menu Planning and Shopping, but if you have more ideas, please comment, I would love to hear them.


Kathy said...

I have older kids so I send them to the store for that gallon of milk here or pound of butter there. That way I'm not tempted to pick up 4 jars of sketti sauce for $5, a recent copy of some womans magazine $2.49, a bottle of Diet Coke $1.29, package of fruit of the looms $6.99(no time to do wash if you have to run to the store), 10 yogurts for $6.00, OH! red band bananas! Gotta get those so you can make b-bread Hmmmmm, better pick up some walnuts......


Momof3 said...

love your sheet for menu planning. I haven't been doing this and I think I have been spending too much money because of it.

Momof3 said...

One other thing about menu planning. I'm and organizing junkie hosts "menu planning Monday" every, well, Monday. Its a great place to get ideas if you're not sure where to start, to get recipes for inexpensive meals, or just ideas. There are women who post their cost for their cost-effective meals too. Check her out at

Lindsee said...

I love your work sheet!! I printed it but my computer adds all this number stuff to it because its a picture. Could you email it to me?


And I have a blog I just started about cheap yummy dinner. Just because I am poor doesn't mean I can't cook good food!!

Jen Morrison said...

I find it helpful to stock up on meat when it is on sale. We freeze it and since we only have meals with meat 1 or 2 times a week we can really make it last. Meat is pricey so if you can get your family to enjoy veggie casseroles and the like you can save a lot of money.

Jen Morrison said...

Also, when we don't have leftovers my husband takes a 39 cent can of soup to work for lunch. That definitely saves us money compared to when he'd get fast food even though he ordered a couple things off the $1 menu.

Kenny & Jon said...

I am also part of a food co-op. There's a big one here in Utah. They can get you bulk rates on high quality foods. It's awesome and helps you menu plan because it's all preordered.