Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Menu Planning 101

First of all, if you haven't checked out my "big changes" post...you should read it here.

I've got three of the ten available spots for the fall/early winter filled, so if you're wanting to schedule a regular session before November 17th, get a hold of me!

Now.  Moving on...to menu planning.

I have gone through so many different ways of planning my menu.  I've planned and shopped once a month, every other week, every week.  I have couponed, shopped Aldi, driven to three different stores once a month to get everything I need at the cheapest price.  I have tried it all.

And what I have found that works the best for me is to plan a new menu every week, based on what I already have in my pantry or freezer and/or items in the local shopping ads.

I usually look through all the ads, see where I can get the best deal on specific things by stacking deals and coupons and stick to that one store.

If it's Price Chopper, I stop by on the way home from school one day, so I'm not making an extra trip.

If it's Yoss Thriftway, here in town, I try to grab the ad on Wednesday nights and run in there that night because coupons are doubled up to $0.49 on Wednesdays.

If it's Country Mart, I usually make a Saturday morning trip before the girls are up and take my coupons because they double up to $0.49, too!

Usually once every two or three months, I'll stop at Aldi after dance class and stock up on those staples and pantry items that will last for quite a while.

Bottom line...I might not be saving on every single deal that I used to when I was an avid couponer that went to fifteen different stores every week, but I am saving time that I could be spending at home and I believe that is more important.

So...what does my menu-planning situation look like now?

Well, I've found an awesome app for my iPad that I use called MealPlan.

Here is a screen shot of what our menu looks like this week.

My breakfast is super-simple.  I either do a pop-can of cinnamon rolls, instant oatmeal, or cereal.  I'm always doing my Herbalife shakes and the girls get a choice of whatever else is available.  On Mondays, I usually do something a little more work-intensive (like pancakes from a box...ooooo, so much work), just because it's the start of the work week and it's nice to have a little extra motivation to get going.  And I also put something together on Thursday night that I can throw into the oven Friday morning because Matthew is off (usually some type of casserole -- this week is French Toast casserole -- mmmmmm).

I've got "Leftovers" on there a few times this week because we had awesome church family that brought us food over the last few weeks, following my surgery.  Usually, we do leftovers on Sunday nights because it's a "prep for the week" night and otherwise just take them to work for lunch the next day.

My school year menu looks much different than the one above.  All of the lunch boxes are filled with "Leftovers" and the evening meals are usually filled with crock pot or freezer meals!

So here's a little review of my menu-planning process:
1. Go through calendar and see when we will be home to eat.
2. Create as many meals as I can based on items we already have in the pantry or freezer.
3. Look through the ads on Wednesdays and make the rest of the menu.
4. Shop by Saturday night.

Perhaps the most difficult step during the school year is step 5...cook the meals and eat at home.

I must admit that it is very tempting to me to drop by a fast food joint and grab some grub instead of cooking at home.  However, I feel SO much better when we eat at home as a family.  I'm a work in progress.  What can I say?


  1. Okay, totally didnt know that CM did the double coupon thing! Wowza was I missing out there... only on Saturday? Also, Yoss now does up to $50 cents! Wooo hooo! :) Thanks for sharing. Would LOVE to have a few of us share this summer and maybe we can take from one another!

    1. Actually, CM is every day! :) I just go on Saturdays because the girls are sleeping, lol!