I remember when I was first married, I went to the grocery store about every week and a half to two weeks and just bought things that looked good and things that we had run out of. Then after we’d been married about ten years, had moved half-way across the country, and things were a bit tight, my neighbor showed me how she bought food on a tight budget.
It all started with looking over the sales flyers that came in the mail, today you can look on the flipp app. She would see what meat was on sale and plan a menu around sale items, filling in the gaps with inexpensive meals like beans and cornbread and soups.
Since we eat mostly chicken and ground turkey, I don’t bother with looking at what meat is on sale until I shop and then I use the built in portion of my budget to buy a bit of any special meat that might be on sale (like salmon or chicken sausage or bacon).
When temperatures are fluctuating, like they are right now, I take a piece of paper and write down the days for a week and the high temperatures from my weather app. That way I can plan for a nice hearty soup when it is cold and a pasta dish or other item when it is warmer.
I write down dishes that I know I want to include and then either flip through my stack of printed recipes or a cookbook for inspiration for the rest of the days’ meals.
From there, I write down the ingredients I will need that I may not have on one list and the ingredients I know I need to buy on the grocery list, separated by store–we go to 3-4 stores that are all within a mile of each other.
I sometimes write any extra recipes I’m considering making somewhere on the paper (this time on the upper right of the page). Sometimes I note meals I that sound good but I’d already filled in the week’s menu and I want to consider them next week.
I use tally marks when I’m going through the recipes and I encounter duplicates e.g. chicken needed for two meals and two cans of tomato paste are needed this week.
Then I check the questionable list against what is on hand and add any missing items to the grocery list. Then I consider items we eat for the other meals of the day and add needed items to the list as well. Things like eggs, mayonnaise, milk, butter, and such.
I keep a marker board on my refrigerator for adding things throughout the week that need replacing on grocery day. I also keep the menu on the refrigerator so it doesn’t get misplaced.
Now, just because I have pizza written for Friday’s meal does not mean that we are most definitely having pizza on Friday. We need to run errands Friday and so I will switch up the meal to another day or it may be too hot to have soup one day because it got hotter in the house than I thought it would and so I may switch to another night’s meal or completely change it up and have sandwiches, salad, or a pasta dish. The menu is a tool for me and I am not a slave to it.
I hope this helps you with your menu planning.
Until next time,