Jan 11, 2011

Menu Planning


I used to be the queen of couponing.
If a good deal was to be had, I'd get it.
In my pantry I had stacks and stacks of granola bars that I'd bought for 10 cents a box, cereal for 50 cents a box, and tuna helper for 30 cents a box.
Looking at my pantry, you'd think we were well stocked...but not really.
You can't make a very rounded menu for the week, let alone a few days out of granola bars, cereal and tuna helper.
So I quit couponing

...for the most part.

I still use a coupon here and there for shampoo or deoderant, cheese, or chicken.
But I was tired of spending so much time shopping and stalking up on good {but not always healthy} deals
and at the end of the day not being able to answer that aged old question,
"What's for dinner?"

Instead this is what I do:

I write down 14 dinner ideas
{Cause these are the tough ones.  Lunches and Breakfasts are pretty basic.}

I make a list of all the ingredients I'll need to make those 14 dinners.

I look at the inventory I already have in my pantry and my fridge.

Anything I don't already have in stock that I will need to make those 14 dinners, I write down on a list.

I take that list to the store.

And my cart gets really full.

But I only have to shop once every two weeks.

And that makes me happy.
{cause grocery shopping isn't as fun as other kinds of shopping}

THEN,

after all my groceries are put away, I write all my 14 dinner ideas on a chalk board I have hanging in my dinning room.
{it used to be a chore chart but we use word of mouth for chores now...more on that later}

I don't assign certain dinners to certain days of the week because I may not want lentil tacos on Monday or I may be too busy to make chili on Wednesday, etc., etc.

Instead, I pick something off the list and then cross it off after I've made it.

It's nice.

All the ingredients are already in the house.

When I'm asked, "What's for dinner???"

All I have to do is look at my list and choose. 

And I spend less when I only shop once every two weeks instead of once every three days.

And that

...is REALLY nice.


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9 comments:

KC and the Sunshine Kids said...

I heart you :) I do the same thing - could be because we are confined to the same pay schedule? :) Grocery shopping lost its luster when Garrett came along. Taking a bebe to the store I need to get in, get done, get out!! I DO however assign the dinner/meal for each day of the week. Camden KNEW we were having sheppard's pie for dinner tonight because he'd already checked the board. Mine is not nearly as cute as your chalk board though!

AND - I wanna know what "stacked potatoes" are... :)

Seams Inspired said...

Thanks for stating this about coupons. I agree. I stopped couponing when DH's health became an issue. I told him that we could eat cheap, or we could eat healthy. We chose healthy. It does take prep work, as far as planning menus. I basically do the same thing you do with the dinner plans. I print a list and tack it on the kitchen cupboard door. The kids can take a peek and see what we're having. I like your chalkboard. I might have to steal that idea! :o) Happy Wednesday!

Tomesia said...

That's a great idea. I spent this past year "stock piling" in my pantry and still couldn't answer the "what's for dinner?" question. Thanks for posting!

Krystal said...

This is the best thing I have read in days! I have been struggling so hard to try to coupon successfully. I am sure it works for some- but it has yet to work for me because- A) I feel like most coupons are for unhealthy snacky things, B) I feel like I spend so much time and paper and ink trying to gather enough coupons and then I have to go to multiple stores, and C) I never feel like I have enough to sufficiently plan a menu. OH MY GOODNESS I love what you wrote- it is what I have been trying to convince myself but couldn't find the words. So I think I need to say- thank you! You solved a major dilemma for me!
Krystal @ www.wearethebruskis.blogspot.com

Erin said...

I love this idea! I am always asking the question, what's for dinner every night. I just found your blog and love it!

kristine said...

i love this idea! i do the same thing (not as many as 14 meals though) but keep the list in my head which doesn't always work! i am going to start using your method!!

Melinda said...

I would love to try the lentil tacos. Any chance you could post the recipe?

Steph said...

Question:
How do you keep the fresh ingredients from turning bad when you shop with such a large gap in between? I have a hard time just shopping for one week. I find that my cucumbers or cilantro or whatever starts to go bad fairly quickly. I have a newer, nicer fridge, but I still can't seem to keep everything at its freshest. What do you do to solve this? Or do you even have a problem at all?

Keep Home Simple said...

I try to cook meals from my menu that have more fresh ingredients towards the beginning of the two week time span and meals with less fresh ingredients (like burritos or crockpot chili) towards the end of the two week period. I also buy canned fruit/veggies to use towards the end of the two weeks when my fresh ingredients are gone. I also freeze some of my cilantro and I can defrost it when I'm ready to use it in a recipe. Now do I still have fresh produce that goes bad sometimes before I'm able to use it? Yes. Do I sometimes crave more fresh than canned produce towards the end of the two weeks? Absolutely. Occasionally I have to make a small trip to the grocery store just around the corner from my house for some lettuce or milk or something. And that's okay with me because at least I'm still not having to shop every other day for our meals.
Hope that helps!
Thank you for your comment.

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