Welcome back to my Couponing 101 series! In the previous post, I gave a list of all the places where I find the best deals. This post will outline my menu planning and shopping trip to give you an idea of how I do things. My meal planning takes about an hour, maybe longer if I just can’t think of anything to make.
First, I check any immediate stock-up needs. This usually happens around Thursday each week. I check my milk, eggs, flour, and any other basic items I use throughout the week, and add them to my list if we need them.
On Friday, I check out the Meijer preview ad. The great thing about Meijer is that every Friday they post the next week’s ad, both on Facebook and through email. This gives me a chance to decide whether I need to do my shopping Saturday, or wait until Sunday when the things I want go on sale. I’ve frequently done half my shopping at Meijer on Saturday, then go back Sunday to get things that weren’t on sale the day before! Usually, once I see the preview ad and check out the deals, I’ll go ahead and start my menu planning.
Next, I’ll see what meals I can make using things in my pantry. I always keep basic items like pasta, salsa, rice, and sometimes diced tomatoes in the pantry, and I try to keep shredded cheese and pre-cooked black beans in the freezer (See how I cook beans in the slow cooker here!). This is usually enough to build on and just buy a couple things to make a complete meal.
Then I’ll see what I can make using any couponing deals. I mainly do this with Meijer, but lately Kroger has had some very good sales so I’ve been going there often too! The Kroger ad runs Wednesday through Tuesday, so that helps me know when I need to do my shopping.
Everything else I buy at Aldi! Aldi is one of the most amazing grocery stores on the planet. It’s small and simple, and usually so much cheaper than anywhere else. I buy most of my staples here: Flour, tortilla chips, canned items, bread, and now I’m starting to get all my produce there. There have been some weeks where there just aren’t any good grocery deals, so I’ll just do all my shopping at Aldi. Aldi doesn’t accept coupons, but the savings are usually greater than if you were to use coupons at another store.
For bulk items, we go to Sam’s Club. I absolutely love Sam’s, but you just have to be careful because not everything is cheaper in bulk. At the moment, we buy all our toilet paper and paper towels there. We also buy the 5 pound bags of cheese, as well as ground turkey and chicken breasts. I can’t find cheaper meat anywhere else, so we stock up every couple weeks.
By this time, I have a complete menu and shopping list created. We use Google Docs, which is great because John and I can access it anywhere and update it any time we remember something to add to the list. Each week, I plan for 6 dinners with the 7th night being leftovers. Since it’s just the 3 of us and Allison is so small, we always have plenty of dinner leftovers to eat for lunch the next day, so there’s never any need for me to spend extra money on lunches. I’ll usually plan for one “special” breakfast that won’t last the entire week; this could be biscuits and gravy or cinnamon rolls. The other days I just make sure we have extra pancakes in the freezer to heat up in the morning.
Next comes the shopping trip! I mentioned this above, but some weeks I split up my shopping into separate days, especially if I go to 3-4 different stores. Usually it’ll be Friday night and then Saturday morning, but a lot of times I’ll go Sunday after church. I also make sure I do most of my shopping alone! I know it can be hard especially if you have children. I’ll usually go during her nap while John’s home, or even early in the morning before she wakes up. It’s just so much faster for me to get in and out without towing a toddler or getting suggestions of other things to add to the cart. =)
That’s pretty much what happens each week! Hope you enjoyed my Couponing 101 segment! Any specific questions? Feel free to comment below!