Last week I talked about making your grocery shopping and menu planning work for you and for today I thought I would start with just the basics of what I do before I even make out a grocery list or a menu plan.
Before I plan my menu or my shopping list I do these four things.
I look at my calender for the week ahead to see what we have planned and how much time I have.
Knowing my schedule helps me know how much time I have for cooking. If I know I have several really busy days I can plan crock pot meals or something quick like breakfast for dinner.
If I know I have days where I am not as busy, I can plan to make a meal that takes more time, or I can plan to make extra to use later in the week or to freeze.
And depending on my schedule I also try to plan a baking day each week where I can make muffins, cookies, etc
I take a brief note of what I have in my refrigerator, freezer, and pantry that I need to use up.
Often times I have a few things in the fridge that need used up before they go bad.
I also try to take note of what I have in my freezer and pantry that I need to use. Doing this every week or two really helps avoid food waste. Now I am not saying I am perfect in this area. I do occasionally find that hiding object in the back of the fridge, but I do try to keep up on it most of the time.
I also try to take note of what I need. I like to keep a well stocked pantry for the basics. If I keep things like canned tomatoes, canned beans, tomato sauce, etc. on hand, I can easily put together a dinner in no time.
Keeping the basics on hand saves me so much time and money in the long run, so there are a few items I really do not like to run out of.
I look through the ads to see what is on sale.
I take note of what is on sale and what might fit into meals that work with my schedule and the foods I need to use up for the week.
I also look for pantry type items that are at a good price. If things like canned tomatoes, salsa, cheese, and other pantry type items that I use all the time are on sale I will stock up on them.
I look to see if I have any coupons that match the sales or that are for items I need.
I am not a huge couponer. I love coupons and I love a good deal, but I only buy what my family will and can eat. There is so much that we cannot eat due to our food allergies, that many coupons just don’t work for me, but I use what I can.
I almost always use coupons and shop sales for things like cereal for my husband and son that do not deal with food allergies, and for cereal like Chex that the girls and I can have. I also use coupons for things like yogurt, cheese, detergent, soaps, etc. and I try to match them with sales and stock up when I can.
What are your tips for making out a grocery list and menu plan? I would love to hear how you plan.