This is a guest post by Giselle and Lauren of Saving Addiction, a couponing blog that shares deals at Rite Aid, Walgreens, Target and Meijers. I love Giselle and Lauren's sincere commitment to giving, and thought this was a great post on the importance of menu planning. Thanks so much Saving Addiction!
If you want the maximum savings on your budget you MUST menu plan! This is the one that saves me the most money, next to stockpiling. I will show you how I plan every week with 8 easy steps – my boys can do steps 2-4 for me! I dare you to try it for 1 month and see how much you save!
Here are the steps to success with menu planning:
Step 1. Decide how often you want to shop.
I choose to shop every week. I like to get the stockpile items that are good deals weekly. I always have more than 7 meals, just incase I can not get back to the store. (I often have enough to get me by for a week or more)
Step 2. Go through your stockpile and see what meals you can make out of stuff you have.
I went through and picked out items that will almost make 7 meals, just a few missing ingredients.
7 Meals are: Breakfast (for dinner), Spaghetti, Tacos, Fetuccini (homemade sauce), Pizzas, Haystacks (like taco salad), Lentil Loaf with Hash brown Casserole. All that is needed is in stock (picture) except, Lentil beans, baked beans, lettuce, shells, whipping cream, sour cream, onion soup mix, avocados, milk and mushrooms.
Step 3. Go through the sale flyers and see what is on sale that you would like to make for meals this week.
I already have my meals figured out so I will not need to do this step. An example would be if ground beef is on a great sale, you might want to make 3 or 4 of your meals using beef.
Step 4. Add to your list any other products you may need for lunches, snacks, or breakfast.
This should be your smallest list. The items you need extra of make a mental note to stockpile more of these to last you until the next stock-up price! My list is jelly, oil, ketchup, bread and waffles. All things that could be in my stock and now I am paying more than I should for these items. 🙁
Step 5. Check our Store Match-ups and plan to grow your stockpile.
When you go to the store you want to get what little you need for the week and also stock up on whatever is a great price. I will be getting soup, V8, buns, sour cream, apples, and Betty Crocker Warm Delights. These are items I cant leave the store without buying – they are that cheap!
Step 6. Free items.
Lots of times we have coupons for FREE items. I add some in here and there. Today I am planning to use my free hot sauce coupons and the rest of my sour cream freebies.
Step 7. See what great deals there are to donate to those that are in need.
For me I choose items that are free or that I have extra coupons that I wont need for my family. Also see our Change the World Match-ups. I happen to have lots of soup coupons so my plan is to grab 10 extra cans. I will have to do 2 extra transactions, but that is ok because all my other stuff is one transaction!
Step 8. Stick to your list!
This one is HUGE. You can do all the planning you want, then get to the store and let your stomach or emotions take over. You will spend way to much! The only exceptions I make are must have items that are rock bottom prices that I did not know about.