Do you want to know a secret? It’s a little messed up. Don’t judge me… OK. You can judge me. But be a dear and do it behind my back will ya?
I LOVE grocery shopping. Love it. I live for my weekly shopping trip. I’ve got my list in hand and enter each store on a mission! As I collect produce and baking supplies I get excited for the week to come. New recipes to try, old classics to enjoy….it’s my church baby!
I also sorta freak out about grocery store etiquette. I mean, I know that there isn’t lanes painted in the aisle but COME ON – we all know there are lanes. Stay in your lane! And don’t mouth breathe in the middle of the aisle in front of the cereal. Pick a side loser! And don’t get me started on people who start out in the produce section..Ha! Rookies. I’ll see your squished peaches later.
*sigh* We all have our quirks..right? Right!
Anywho, before you enter the grocery store for your weekly fix you really should have a list. And to develop that list – meal planning. You should do it. And here is just a couple of reasons why-
- It will save you time/stress during the week. What are we having for dinner? Let me just refer to my meal plan! What am I packing for lunch today? Let’s check out the meal plan! What’s the best night to invite the in-laws over? (Do you see where I’m going here?)
- It will save you money! In two ways actually.
- If you have a detailed list it can help keep you from impulse purchases. I write my snacks and indulgences on the list (bold move right? But we’re all human. And humans need cookies). So I’ll purchase cookies and then cross it off the list. The list also keeps you from purchasing duplicates because if a recipe calls for breadcrumbs you’ve already checked your pantry BEFORE leaving while you were writing your list. Ta-da! Now you won’t have 4 containers of breadcrumbs. You’re welcome.
- If you’re not at the store every gosh darn day then you’ll spend less money. Because not impulse buying on one trip is hard but on five trips is freaking impossible. And if you have the food and the recipe ready to rock you’re much less likely to end up eating take-out.
- It’s figure friendly! Eating home cooked meals is better on your waist line then all that take-out.
Luckily, meal planning is super easy and not nearly as time consuming as not meal planning. I meal plan using three different techniques/jumping off points but for today let’s start with the most basic one – using the weekly store ad.
First things first, you’ll need your stores ad! These come in the mail, in your newspapers and are available online. Got the ad? Good.
The first page has the stores best deals and there is usually a little bit of everything – meat, produce and home items. I review which proteins are on sale and then start planning my meals. So, if whole chickens our 99 cents a pound and london broil are on special then I’ll start by writing both of them on my list and I’ll work from there. I also look at what seasonal produce is available before I start a recipe search so I don’t pick a recipe with plums in February.
I get meal ideas from multiple places. The magic of the internet, food themed pinterest and old fashioned cookbooks – inspiration is everywhere. Once I find a recipe that sounds interesting a right it down on a piece of scratch paper, taking note of how many servings it makes. It’s just me and my husband and we could end up with a sea of leftovers and a bunch of wasted food if I planned an 8 serving dinner each night of the week. So I take into account the leftovers and write them in for lunches and put leftover nights on our meal plan. Or, if I know we won’t want to eat 10 servings of the same chili I’ll halve the recipe.
After I’ve found a couple recipes that interest me I write them into our weekly meal plan. I put meals that have the most perishable ingredients in the beginning of my week. This is huge! We’ve all been foiled by having a master plan only to find that our salad is wilted and our asparagus is soggy. As I write my meal plan I cross off my recipe ideas from my scratch paper. Sometimes I use them all, sometimes I don’t. I also make sure to leave myself a note on the meal plan on where I found the recipe – the name of the cookbook, website, etc. I’ve purchased all the ingredients for a recipe and then totally spaced on where I saw the recipe to begin with! Super sad. Learn from my mistakes. Our you’ll end up with a pantry of red quinoa you don’t know what to do with.
I also plan for lunches and breakfast. Planning for dinner is a good start. But I have this nasty habit of eating at least 3 times a day (I’m honestly on more of a Hobbit eating plan currently) and the savings really rack up if you plan for each of these meals. If my dinner leftovers don’t cover all the lunches then I know to purchase sandwich fixings and you always gotta have some snacks. Peruse the inner pages of your ad- are the any good trail mix deals? Fruit? BOGO yogurts?
With a surprisingly small amount of time invested you’ll have your whole week of meals planned out. And by using your store ad you’ve maximized your savings and minimized your time thinking about what the F to eat the rest of the week. *sigh* Good times.