Thursday, August 17, 2017

How I Plan Our Meals

I have learned that I can prepare a wide variety of meals while also saving money by taking the time to plan all of our meals for the week. I save money by planning our meals around the sale items and also by looking for meals with similar items so that I use them up during the week (no waste because the item went bad!). In addition, because I am only in the grocery stores once a week, I am not tempted to buy other items that I see on the shelves.

The weekly ads come out on Wednesday, so I sit down with the computer and go through the online circulars noting items that are on sale.

Thursday is meal planning day for me. This week, chicken breasts and roasts are on sale, so they will be the primary meats in next week's meals. I ask everyone if they have a recipe request for the week. Then, I will go through my stash of favorite recipes to add in anything we haven't eaten in a while. The remaining meals are based on sale meat or meat I have in the freezer. I bulk buy meat when it is on sale to use at a later date. I list all of the meals on the menu planning page.

Then it is time to finish making the shopping list by adding in items we need. I talk to all household members on Thursdays to make sure any final additions are added to the list.

Then I plan out the meals for the week. Several of the recipes usually give me leftovers to use in other meals. For example, this week the Sticky Chicken leftovers will be used to make the Pot Pie Ragu. I try to vary the meat so that we aren't eating chicken too many days in a row. We always have fish once a week and some form of beef 1-2 times weekly. The other days are chicken or leftovers.

So that I don't end up with waste, I will incorporate meals that have similar items. For example, panko crumbs are used in both the panko chicken and Pot Pie Ragu, and green onions are in the Beef & Broccoli stirfry and Pot Pie Ragu.

So, this is the sheet I end up with when all of the planning is done. You can find the blank template here.

Now, I am ready to hit the stores on Friday. I always go to Aldi's first because they are the cheapest store. I will compare prices to those of sale items at the other 2 stores and I often end up buying them from Aldi's. We are not very brand-specific in my home ... ketchup is ketchup! The other two stores that I shop at have special deals on Fridays, so that is the only day I will consider grocery shopping. Once I get back home, I cut off the shopping list side of the page and post the weekly menu on the fridge so that everyone can glance at it and know what is for dinner each night.

So, there you have it - my method of planning meals! If you have any tips to share for saving money on groceries or planning meals, feel free to comment!

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