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Monday, February 6, 2012

Grocery Saving Lesson 5 - Plan Your Meals

As I shared with you before, I can do nothing without organization. This includes figuring out what is for dinner. Each month, I print out a blank calendar from google and plan 1 week at a time. I always plan meals from my inventory first. What's the use in having it if you're not using it, right? Then, on my grocery list I write down other ingredients and the fresh items I need for the week (milk, fresh fruit, etc.).

The key is to work from what you have so you aren't forcing yourself to pay full price for an item just because it's on your menu. After you've been hard-core couponing for a few weeks, you should have a nice stock-pile of items to plan meals from. Then, you can use your weekly grocery trips to buy only the fresh items you need, and the new things that are majorly on sale you can save for future meals. This is how my trips turn out so cheap. I am rarely buying a full price item, I am merely stocking my pantry for future meals.

Don't worry though! I absolutely LOVE to cook. I love trying new recipes, baking, and entertaining. I still do these things on a budget, with coupons. If there is a recipe I am dying to try, I check out the ingredients, see what I have on hand, and what I need to watch for on the sale front.

For example, my husband's dying for me to make King Ranch Chicken again. This recipe calls for a lot of canned goods, as well as chopped cooked chicken. This week, my local grocer had chicken breasts on sale .99/lb. I bought 5 lbs, cooked it all and froze it in meal size servings. Rotel diced tomatoes were on sale too and I had coupons so I scooped those up. Next week, King Ranch chicken!

This takes patience and practice. I have been at this 5 years and I'm still learning, but loving it. It's like a game and nothing thrills me more than feeding my family yummy, healthy meals I made from ingredients bought on a shoestring budget!

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