Sunday, February 22, 2009

To all my neighbors, you got much flavor

A couple of friends have asked about our grocery savings.
In the words of Montell Jordanthis is how we do it.

We generally budget $30-35 a week to spend on groceries. I realize that there are people out there who are able to cut their grocery bill down even more by shopping at more than one store, but with two kids (okay, it's really just Jakson. I could shop with Storey all day long) and limited time, that's just not feasible for us. So, I figure out which store has the best deals that week and shop in one place (with coupons of course). Last week it was Albertson's, the week before Fry's.

There are lots of internet resources out there that help me keep my grocery bill low, but one of the biggest (if not THE biggest) ways that I save money is menu planning. It's easy, doesn't take a whole lot of time and results in less stress for me because I don't worry "What are we going to eat for dinner tonight?"

Do what works for your family, but this is how we roll:
Every Sunday night, Zak and I sit down and plan the menu for the week.

Sometimes it's annoying because we can't always come up with things we want to eat, but Recipezaar and Allrecipes are great helps. Personally, I like Recipezaar better--I've been disappointed a couple of times with Allrecipes.

I think the most effective way to find recipes is to search for a type of meat/ingredient that is on sale or we have in our deep freeze, sort the recipes by highest rating and pick one that sounds interesting and doesn't have any strange/expensive ingredients. I've found a few really great recipes this way. Some have even become staples in our house like Ritz Cracker Crumb Chicken (SO good and easy!!).

Then I shop according to the menu plan. I write the things we're missing for each recipe, add on a few snacks (that are on sale) for the kids, veggies and fruits, paper/cleaning products, and shop off of my list.

The trick is NO impulse buys (except for the occasional box of crackers for Jakson to eat in the store..but I'm willing to shell out a couple extra dollars for my sanity).

A side note: just because a certain meal is written next to a particular day doesn't mean that we will necessarily eat it on that day. I might forget to stick the stuff in the crock pot one morning or won't feel like pasta that day, so I have the right to switch things up and eat Friday's meal Monday and so forth. Don't feel tied down. It's just a basic outline so that you purchase enough food for seven meals. Ideally, you want to get rid of those emergency trips to the grocery to purchase one or two ingredients. Most of the time you don't have time to search through your coupons/check the ads and will end up spending more for last minute items.

And if you want your menu plan to be pretty (or more organized) these are some of my favorite online resources (they are all printable---and fabulous!):
Futuregirl Craft Blog-Menu Plan Template-this is the one we currently use-I love it!
A Print a Day-Daily Menu
Organized Home Planner-has breakfast, lunch and dinner
Menu Planning Form-2 different forms for download
Not free, but you know I had to add the token Etsy link: Cicistudio-worth the $4!!

Menu for February 22-March 1-see links for recipes
Monday: Lettuce Wraps-with pork, not chicken
Tuesday: Anderson Chowder--french bread
Wednesday: Farfalle Pasta (recipe below)--asparagus
Thursday: Crock Pot Chickcen with black beans and cream cheese (sans the black beans-don't like them)--cauliflower
Friday: Hamburgers on the grill
Saturday: Lone Star Fondue (Sat. night tradition)
Sunday: Roast

Farfalle Pasta-courtesy of Katie Brown
6 cups farfalle pasta
1 T. butter
1 3/4 canned chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 cup cream
3/4 cup shredded parm. cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. In separate pan melt butter. Add tomatoes and seasonings. Heat to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add cream. Heat to a boil. Add parm. cheese and stir until melted. Serve over hot pasta.


lynette said...

we're menu makers too! it just makes sense-plus i can't stand going to the store more than once a week. another great resource is you can select your meals for the week and it makes a shopping list for you!

The Johnsons said...

Wow... 30-35 dollars a week? We spend more like $130 a week. It never looks like that much in the shopping cart but it just adds up. Just buying milk for the week is like $15...
I tried the menu planning thing but just couldn't stick to it. I probably should give it a second try.


Clyde J Criddle said...

Is this my daughter? Who are you - really?

Glad that you are taking after your mother. She knows how to budget and plan too.

Love ya.

Audra Bollard said...

Okay, I'm a dedicated menu planner, but you have me beat by a mile. How on earth did you buy pork, chicken, hamburger, and a roast for that menu for $30? I'm assuming you've got to have stockpiled some of the meat from previous trips right? Just curious (although not surprised--I did live you with for some time . . . :)

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