A while back I was basically forced into frugality as I was a mom on welfare after my daughter was diagnosed with Asperger’s and holding down a regular job became more difficult. I was desperate on how to hang on to the little money I was getting. Back then I had $150 a month to last the month for food. It was then that I became a menu planner after first really learning about planning from Laura at The Organizing Junkie. Laura may not know this but for me she was a godsend. I became a stalker of Menu Monday posts. Learning all I could from women across bloggerville.
So what does menu planning look like for me now? For me I find what works best is a weekly plan. That way I can take advantage of loss leaders, sales, and what I have plenty of in the house.For other women they may plan biweekly or even monthly. For some with really picky eaters they may just rotate meals.
On Thursday evenings we get the flyer’s ( this is also pay night for me!) so I etch out 45 minutes to plan my menu for the next week. I grab a cup of my favorite herbal tea and sit down at the kitchen table with my flyer’s, my coupon box, and my notebook and pen in hand.
First I look through the flyer’s looking for great sales that I can combine with the coupons I know I have in my box. Here in rural Nova Scotia I am pretty limited in my selection of stores and usually end up at either Sobey’s, Co-op or Walmart. I really like Walmart because they price match. When I am looking through the flyer’s the thoughts in the back of mine : is this really a good price? is this a food we eat regularly? with it pass with the picky eaters that exist in this house? Once I have my shopping list in hand in my mind and since I have a good idea of what is in stock in my kitchen, I am really ready to start planning in earnest.
I will use this weeks menu as am example. A couple weeks ago chicken was on sale so I picked up 2 larger value packs ( and divided into meal size portions before freezing), hamburger was on sale last week, and eggs are a staple here. Cheese had also been on sale. Pasta had also been on sale ( and I had a coupon). So now I know what ingredients I have. So what should they become, what recipes should I use?
I then walk over to my computer with my little list and some ideas. I pull up a file I have on my computer that links to hundreds of recipes I have bookmarked over time. I can spend about may be 10 minutes matching up ingredients to a good recipe that will fly with us picky people. Within 1 hr on Thursday evenings I have my next week planned food wise. For me a working mom this works because I can 1. Shop Friday morning on my day off. 2. I go with a list and my coupons to grocery store thus saving money because I am not mindless shopping.3. I don’t have that last minute worry what am I going to cook for dinner.
For me a mom who looks for ways to save cents, this works and works well. What works for you? I am off to We are That Family to see what is working for you this week.