Monday, September 16, 2013

Meal Planning and Creating my Grocery List

I have read that meal planning is one of the better ways to save money on your grocery bill.  I only make one or two big grocery trips each month (of course I have to do smaller ones to replenish produce/milk/bread, etc).  When I first began meal planning, I would write out each day and plan a meal for that day, plan for leftovers, and be sure to plan easy meals for nights I would be home late.  I ended up not wanting what I had planned on a specific night and swapping days around, though, so now I just make a list of meals to eat until the next time I go grocery shopping.

Meal Planning

To plan my meals, I pull out my recipe box and Pinterest and try to plan things that we didn't eat in the last rotation.  I also try to plan a variety of meats, as well as a variety of time-consuming, crock pot, and quick meals so I am prepared for all kinds of evenings.


I do not plan for a certain number of days, but this one happens to cover half a month.  It will actually last longer because we will eat out occasionally.



This process already takes a lot of time, so I do not take the time to look at sale ads to plan my meals around them.  I figure planning my meals and buying only what I need for them saves a decent amount of money because I don't have groceries that go unused.  

My Grocery List

We keep a running list on the refrigerator of items we run low or out of.  Hubby is learning that if he just tells me and it doesn't get on the list, I will usually forget to buy it.  This is the list I use when I go to the store between my big shopping trips (things like toiletries, milk, produce, spices, etc).


When I make my grocery list, I use this and my meal plan.  I also like to write it by section or type of food (and sometimes even in the order I go through the store).  If it is not organized, I usually skip things and have to backtrack, which is aggravating.

I look at my meal plan and first write down all of the meat I will need, followed by produce, canned and boxed food, frozen food, dairy, etc.  I add in snacks/breakfast foods/condiments that we need.  Before I say it is finished, I try to go through the pantry and refrigerator to see if there is anything else we are about to run out of, but inevitably I will not notice something that will go on the running list.


I don't usually write the category, but I did today so you can see how it is organized.

You won't find everything for each meal on this list, because I keep a lot of staples on hand, like herbs and spices, bread crumbs, etc.  If I already have plenty of it, I am not going to buy more!

How do I save money?

  • After I create my grocery list, I go onto coupons.com to check if there are coupons for things I am already going to buy.  I generally do not buy things just because I have a coupon.
  • I buy the store brand of a lot of things I buy, especially frozen vegetables, dairy, and pasta, although I do have brands I prefer for other things.
  • After I get home, I portion the meat into enough servings for just me and Hubby.  I will show you how I do this in another post.
  • We eat leftovers.
  • I use the food we have in the house.  If I do buy extra food (say there is more chicken in a family pack or extra pork chops), I have enough staples on hand that I can create other meals that I didn't plan for.
Of course, there are always ways that I can save more money and eat healthier, but we're a work in progress.  I don't think I will ever be perfect at this, but this is the system that works for me.


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