Friday, March 22, 2013

Meal Planning (And Grocery Shopping) Made Easy

I have been thinking about writing this post all week.  I'm sure everyone already knows how to do these things, but just in case they don't, I'm going to share how I do it for our household.

Here's what I do each week:
1. Check out what you have in your pantry, freezer and refrigerator before doing any shopping.  I take note of what I have and what I'm running low on or are out of.  With this knowledge, I will be able to plan my meals using some of the items I already have on hand plus it will make it easier to fill out a grocery list as you plan the weekly menu.
2.  Keep a running list of items that you need from the grocery store in a easily viewed place.  I keep my list on the refrigerator door.
3.  Check out the grocery ad. I plan my meals around what I have on hand as well as what is on sale this week.  If it's not on sale or I don't have it, we aren't having it as a meal this week.  Even if it's an item I am out of.  Also, I won't buy an item to restock the pantry, freezer, etc., unless it's on sale.  (This does not apply to the basic staples though.  If I need milk or bread, has to be bought.)  I should also add that I have been out of bacon for several weeks now.  But, the sale on bacon has not been a good one.  So...I'm waiting to purchase it until I can get a better deal.
4.  Do you have any coupons for the items you are going to purchase?  If so...I make sure you use them.
5.  If you really don't need much in the way of groceries this week for your meals, are there items on sale at the grocery store that are really good buys?  If so, I try to stock up on those items for future meals.  For instance, Easter is coming up and our store is having some great deals on hams.  I have 2 hams in the freezer, but...I'm going to use one next weekend.  Therefore, if I have the money to buy one, I will do it.
6.  Know the basic meals that you make on a regular basis.  I have a file of recipes that I use over and over again.  I can easily pull this file out when I'm planning my menu and this also makes it easier to add items to my shopping list because I don't have to wonder what I need to make something as I have the recipe right there to look at.
7.  Keep a file of any meals that you are dying to try out sometime.  When something is on sale for one of these recipes, I am more apt to buy it then and try out the new dish rather than buying the items for it when they are more costly.  I've tried out 3 new recipes this week using items already on hand as well as items I had to purchase.  But, the items I had to purchase were a can of cherry coke, a box of stuffing, and a bag of hash browns.

That's pretty much it.  It sounds more complicated than it is.  Really.  Once you get in the habit of doing these things, planning a menu is nothing and grocery shopping is easy.

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