April 5, 2011

Menu Planning!!!

Admist all my reading lots of books - I do try to be organized and run our home well!!  It does not always work out, and I'm still learning!  I've only been married for 10 months, and have only been a "mom" or a stepmom for that amount of time too.  Needless to say, theres a lot to learn on both accounts!  Learning we all like to do in free time, how clean we are, what our weekly menu looks like, it can be overwhelming sometimes - but in a good way!

I'm linking up with one of my fave blogs, a bowl full of lemons this week to learn how to plan a menu, shop for only those items on the menu - and be frugal while doing all of this!

If you like menu planning + frugal, you may want to check out 5 dollar dinners she has TONS of recipes on her website and if you want to, you can pay to sign up for her weekly or Since we are on Dave Ramsey, I'm not doing that, but I am using some of her menus for this week to make up my own $5 dinner plans.  The cool thing is, I picked all menus that include food items that we already have here at home, so this week its like $0 dinners;)  Anyways, I've only planned this week, and have only done dinner - since Ash and I are both in school all day (her learning, me counseling) and Dave sleeps during the day and works late at night (nurse) dinner is really the only meal we all eat together.  Of course, our breakfast and lunch items take up a bit of our weekly grocery budget too - but more on that later. 

Anyways, here are some pics I took of me planning our menu this week, and getting ready for weekly menu planning from here on out:
My Recipe Binder, which you can read more about how I made it, here

 Downloaded from $5 dinners, this is our monthly menu plan for April, not totally filled out yet....
 I printed out a TON of $5 dinners and keep them in the Recipe Binder
 I'm also going through a lot of my cookbooks and writing down our faves on this handy sheet, found randomly on the internet, and keeping this in the Recipe Binder too so its a one stop shop for all our favorite meals....
 See?
 The Monthly Menu plan will live in this binder too, as well as the Pantry stock list.  This list was compiled on $5 to help us figure out what staple foods and items I always need in my pantry to make most of her recipes, its a good list of things that most people usually already have too - I only need to buy a few things to complete it!
These are other free printables from $5 dinners - shopping lists.  There are two here that I like, one has space to list the meals for each week and what to buy, and the one the left is a list separated by sections of the grocery store....I like both!  I honestly think I'll fill the right one out during my meal planning time (probably on Sat when I cut coupons) and then transfer the list to the left one so that its shopping made easy in the actual store (who else tries NOT to forget anything in one part of the store, only to realize you have and go allllll the way back to the aisle to get it....so annoying!)

Anyways, so there is a lot that goes into this.  Couponing, meal planning, organizing, recipe building and searching, being frugal and being healthy (April is my BE HEALTHY month, I promise the Happiness Post on that is coming....) it's a lot to think of!

Saturdays I get my paper, I will sit down and find 7 meals (or 6 if we are going out that week, which we usually do once) and recipes from my books, my binder, or the internet.  From those, I will make my list of what to buy,  trying to be as frugal as possible, which is why I like $5 dinners and coupons!!  Then, I will clip coupons from the paper that I know I will use, the rest get recycled.  Never buy an item just because you have a coupon, only buy it if you actually eat it, and honestly only use them if its a good deal!  I also get on the computer and search coupons that way, again ONLY printing ones I know I will use.   Using the circulars from the paper, I will figure out where to buy my food.  Usually I go to the ShopRite right across the street, but if Target or Wal-Mart have a really good sale (last week W had 24 pop tarts for $5, can't pass that up since Ashley eats about 4 pop tarts a day!  She's gotta cut back...we're trying!)  Then, after gathering my coupons (I use little coupon pouches from Target), deciding what stores to go to, I'm off to shop!

I'll still be tweeking this process as I go.  I'm new at this.  But there is something nice about KNOWING what is for dinner every night, and preparing in advance.  It's also easier on our wallets, which is great since we are doing our Total Money Makeover!

So that's how I am planning my meals and menu!  Any tips or sharing of your process would be awesome!

FYI - I did finally finish Sense and Sensibility, it was SO good as I already said, way better than the movie.  I'm starting Book 2 of Hunger Games, I'm so excited:)