January 24, 2012

A pre-coupon post: Menu Planning

One huge part of couponing is meal planning.  I used to plan my meals and then go shopping.  This doesn't work well when you want to shop for sales & deals.  After reading the book by the Krazy Coupon Lady I learned that I was doing the whole menu planning thing the wrong way!!  You have to plan plan plan!  So now, I look at what is on sale and what I have coupons for - buy everything I have on my lists (yes, I usually have a few different lists) and THEN plan my menus based on what I have.  I save sooo much money doing my menus this way.  Plus, you don't have to run to the store every other night to pick up something you may have forgot.  When you coupon, you usually have e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g you need to cook!  It takes a while to get that way, but you do eventually have a nice stockpile!

So now, on Saturdays usually, I just look at what I have in my fridge/pantry/stockpil-in-the-basement and see what I have and from there I plan our meals for the next week.  I usually buy meat every other week, and I buy what's on sale, or go to the store that has the meat I want that's on sale (i.e. I usually shop at ShopRite but if they don't have chicken on sale, which we need a lot of, I'll go to Wegman's or Safeway or whoever has it on sale) and I plan my meals around that.  I try to switch it up a lot too - like if we have beef one night, I'll make sure we have chicken or pork the next, or at least a different type of beef.  It's important to switch it up or your husband/kids/family will get bored and get mad at you - lol just kidding.  But seriously, switch it up because life is all about change and different flava!

I saw this really cool idea somewhere, I forget where but probably on Pinterest.  You take a picture frame, put some pretty scrapbook paper in it and then write your menu on the the glass with a dry erase marker like a white board.  Then, you hang it up in your kitchen or wherever works for you, and you have a clear menu to look at all week - no scrambling last minute to decide what to eat or what to cook. 

Here is ours.  It's not too fancy right now, hanging on our boring kitchen walls.  One day this will be a pretty, ornate Tuscan frame - whenever we get around to reno-ing the kitch.

This is just one of the many things that make my life as a wife and step mom a little easier.  I do all the work ahead of time and just follow it for the week.  Sometimes Dave starts dinner before I get home from work, and this is so helpful because he knows what meat to defrost and what ingredients to get out.  I try to do an interesting meal at LEAST once a week, like a new recipe or a complicated one that we love.  Last weekend on Saturday I made Julia Child's Beef Bourgignon - it's sooooooo Amazing and yummy!  This week I made Pioneer Woman's Cowboy Steak sandwiches.  Again, so so yummy!  read her blog and get her cookbook, by the way, she's awesome. 

See?  I try to make things interesting and exciting sometimes;)  Then, other times as you see, we just make something easy, fast, and severely unhealthy like Hamburger Helper!  My family loves it, what can a girl do?

This is an important part to couponing, because your meals will depend on the sales you are shopping and the coupons you have.  Don't worry, you can steal eat healthy when you coupon - I always have tons and tons of veggies to cook and supplement meals.  I think a lot of people think they can't eat well on couponing, but that is a myth.  Read KCL - she'll tell you;)

Oh and I just saw this on Pioneer Woman's site, if you are planning on stockpiling soon - here is her list of "staples" to have in your house at all times!  I'm printing mine out as we speak!! 

Ta Ta for now!