Thrifty Thursday - Planning your Menu 101


Planning your Menu 101

This is a two part series on how to "spend less at the Grocery Store": 
1) Planning your Menu / Making your List

Today, I want to talk about planning a menu and making your grocery list, which I do simultaneously. This allows me to have the best prepared and condensed list. It’s simple and quick and you won’t spend more at the grocery store than you absolutely have to! Sound like a plan? I think so.

Click on this link for a Menu Planner that you can print out and write on as you read through the remainder of this post.



1) Let's start out with Dinner:
The first step is to look in the freezer and pantry for items that you already have on hand.
Choose a couple meats from your freezer and then add 2, to your list, that you can pick up fresh.
Choose a couple vegetables from your freezer/pantry then 2, to your list, that you can pick up fresh.

A key factor to mention here is that I basically split up my list so that I am only buying about half of what I will be using that week. The other half is from the pantry or freezer, that I have purchased other weeks when they were on sale. (More on that later in the post - keep reading to see the method to this madness.)

2) For lunch: I have found that it is much cheaper to make a little extra for dinner and then save your leftovers for lunches throughout the week instead of actually buying lunch items like, sandwich fixings or pre-packaged lunch items.
I would suggest preparing your lunches the night before so that it's much easier to grab in the mornings, even when you're rushed. 

Add a few fruits to your list, only what you know will get eaten.  (4 Bananas, 3 Apples, 2 Avocados) Fruit is a great FRESH addition to leftovers for lunch.

3) Last, let's look at Breakfast Foods: it is usually scrambled eggs, an avocado, and either bacon or ham steak. Hash browns, toast, oatmeal, and waffles are also good choices to keep on hand. I keep buy cereal and milk every week because I use milk for cooking other things and cereal is a blessing when you’re running behind in the mornings. It’s honestly one of the only “convenience foods” that I buy.

Add your dairy, perishable items, and juice. (Cheese, creamer, eggs)

That’s it! There is your list. THIS is all you will HAVE to buy when you go to the store.

So, now you may be wondering how to keep your pantry stocked if you’re continually depleting it from week to week??

Well, that’s when I pull out the local ads and see what’s on sale. Only add to your list what you are out of and what you know will get used. Look at the “Buy One Get One Free” deals first! Choose only a few items to “stock up” with.

I Love BOGO deals!

In addition to my short "essentials" grocery list, I look to see what is on sale in the meat department and frozen vegetable aisle. Make sure you get a variety on these items because you will want more than chicken and corn to choose from when you start planning your menu next week!  Just grab a few meats and veggies that you know will get eaten when you go to plan your next meals. 

I get most of my coffee and other staples on BoGo deals, as well as, meats and veggies. Condiments and sealed coffee can last in your cabinet for a month (or more depending on the item) so, purchase those items when they are on sale and you'll always have them when you need them! 

Quick Example on this: If you add a "jar of mayo" to your grocery list when you realize that it is empty, you're going to be paying $3.99 for it because it's a staple and something you must keep on hand so you just pay what you have to and don't give it a second thought. However, if it was on sale the week before as a BoGo then you could have saved $2 and spent half of what it's going to cost you this week. Just something to keep in mind. :-)

Well, you have completed your Grocery List. I hope you have enjoyed this post! Please come back and let me know how these tips and tricks have worked for you. Also, if you would like to share an additional idea, please leave a comment for all to see!

Other tips to help you save when planning your menu:
Buy items that can be used for multiple purposes instead of buying “A Box of Garlic Bread” or Peanut Butter Crackers for a snack. Basically eliminate the “convenient” pre-packaged foods.

A loaf of bread can be toast for breakfast, garlic bread for dinner, homemade bread crumbs for baking/coating, etc.
A jar of Peanut Butter can be used for snacks such as (Celery & Peanut Butter) or a Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich or Peanut Butter and Banana,
A bag of potatoes can be used for scalloped potatoes, baked potatoes, hash browns for breakfast, and much more. Buy a bag instead of pre-packaged hash browns or a box of scalloped potatoes.

Remember: Moderation and discipline when shopping and you won't go wrong! It will become a way of life before you know it to just get what's on your list and on sale and make your meals based off those items.




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