Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tackle It Tuesday

We spent a good portion of the weekend cleaning,which means I get to have somewhat of a relaxing week- cleaning wise. However, one thing I didn't do that I would normally do on the weekend is menu plan. So tonight, my Tackle It Tuesday was to organize my coupons (especially since it was the end of the month and some had expired at the end of October), menu plan, and write my grocery list. In tonight's post I will go over my planning process.

1. Sort through sale ads taking mental note of the products I use that are on sale.
2. Browse my pantry to see what items I currently have, and if there are things that need to be used up quickly (I REALLY hate throwing away food so this step is key).
3. Go through recipes I have saved on the right side of my food blog (Things I'd Like to Try) to find new recipes (bonus if I have the items or if the necessary ingredients are on sale).
4. Go through stand-by recipes throughout my food blog to decide what else will go on the menu.
5. Finalize the menu- which meals on which days. I typically like to get leftovers from at least one meal so I'm not cooking every night.
6. Go through each recipe and write down the ingredients I need
7. Sort through my coupons- again taking note of things that are on sale (making it a good price in general) and coupons of items that I need for my menu. The coupons I need go in the front pocket of my accordion file folder where my coupons are stored.
8. Grocery shop with list, coupons and sale ad (if necessary) in tow.

Here is my menu for this week:
Monday: Baked Macaroni & Cheese (oh such a comfort food!)
Tuesday: Leftovers
Wednesday: Sweet & Sour Chicken over Rice
Thursday: Leftovers/Subway
Friday: Classic Beef Chili & Rolls
Saturday: Mediterranean Chicken & Baked Potato
Sunday: Our Godson's Baptism (I'm bringing a crudite platter)

A few important notes:
*I know what things I typically buy. Any time I see a coupon for one of those items, I clip it. If it's on sale, I buy it for sure with the coupon, because I know I will use it soon. Otherwise, I might wait a few weeks to see if it does go on sale.

*I RARELY buy things that aren't on the shopping list. That doesn't mean I don't buy snacks and such, but I try to put even those things on the list. Sticking to the list, I've found, saves money, and helps reduce food waste.

*Don't forget to account for breakfast and lunch when making your list! I typically buy fresh fruit and cereal for breakfast and we eat leftovers or sandwiches for lunch.

*If you are trying to eat healthier- stick to the perimeter of the store. The processed foods are in the inner aisles. You'll be surprised at how little you really NEED down those aisles if you focus on eating fresh, healthy foods.

*I always buy frozen veggies over canned if I can. They are better for you and usually cheaper anyway!

* The best way to organize recipes, I think, is through a blog. If you look through mine, you see I have a place to save links for recipes I want to try as well as my favorite food blogs. Then, obviously, I document each of the recipes I try with my notes and how much we liked it. Even if you don't want to share your blog with anyone, its a VERY helpful tool to use with menu planning. Oh and it's free! :) I also like it because I can access it anywhere I have the Internet, just another bonus!

Are you a menu planner? Link me to your favorite recipe in the comments! I'd love to try it! If you aren't a menu planner, I highly suggest giving it a try. You'll be surprised how much less you will spend at the grocery store. And you won't have that problem of trying to figure out what's for dinner at 6pm. It's been a life saver for me!


  1. I used to wander aimlessly through the store, but since I started menu planning, I am in and out in less than 30 minutes! It's great! I also recently started clipping coupons in an effort to save money, so I'm still learning how to make the best use of those.

    This week is "super easy week" because I'm having minor surgery tomorrow. I made a couple of casseroles ahead of time so they're in the freezer with notes on baking instructions (aka DH friendly...LOL).

  2. We menu plan, but I just list the meals we want to make and then play it by ear. I found that I hated assigning meals to days, I felt too pressured.

    One of our favorites is meatless tacos. We try to eat a meatless dish at least once a week, saves money and is healthy, too.

  3. If you have never been, visit orgjunkie.com for Menu Planning Monday. Such a GREAT resource for menu ideas and meal planning!!

  4. I hate waste too. I feel calmer when I menu plan, makes dinner one less thing to worry about. Thanks for the helpful post!

  5. I menu plan and it has helped eliminate that annoying "What's for dinner" question. I don't assign meals to days though, thats just too much for me. I have noticed a reduction in junk food since when I go to the store I (mostly) stick to the list.

    Not having to run out to the store during the week for one or two items also helps keep the grocery bill down.

  6. I started menu planning this year when I returned to work after having twins - it is the only way we could have dinner for us.

    My favorite recipe lately came from A Year of Slow cooking blog - the link in is on Wednesday in this post:

  7. I am definitely a menu planner. I keep my menus on my blog ( http://ourlonghaul.blogspot.com/search/label/Menu%20Plan%20Monday ).

    As for a favorite recipe, I am a fan of anything Mexican- (especially enchiladas!) or cheesy... I like Southwestern skillet mac n cheese because it is relatively low in calories! http://ourlonghaul.blogspot.com/2009/04/southwestern-skillet-mac-cheese.html

  8. I actually started menu planning this week after seeing the idea on so many blogs. I can be very wish-washy though, so assigning a specific day for each meal isn't going to work for me, but I am glad to have a list of suggestions to go by throughout the week.

    BTW, I made your red skin mashed potatoes last night! They came out awesome! :) I might try your creamy chicken pasta tonight!

  9. I'm trying to get to a point where my menu planning is a little more organized but I've started by at least clipping coupons and only using them when the item is on sale unless I really need it. So far so good!

  10. MUST plan for meals. Love doing that, I usually do that with my husband on every other sunday - very relaxing and it's exciting finding new recipes to try. I don't really use recipe blogs but I LOVE the cookbook "Cooking Light" - a compilation of all their recipes from a year. Restaurant-delicious AND healthy.

  11. and... just found your blog and love it and need it badly. am doing your ten week challenge now, ha, on the first week, 2/3 so far lol

  12. I just checked back to this post to see if you listed this info....How do you sort your coupons in your accordian file - specifically what catagories do you use? I clip the coupons and try to seperate them by cleaning products, canned goods, etc. but then I have trouble finding them again. Just curious about what you do - thanks!!!

  13. Lisa,
    I keep my coupons organized by date. I find that to be easiest for me. Otherwise, coupons go unused because they expire! I know this system doesn't work for everyone though, so you may be better off with the one you currently have.

    Here is a copy from a previous post of mine:
    The best $1 I've ever spent. It's an accordion file folder from Target, and it was seriously $1. I leave the front pocket open, and then starting in the 2nd pocket I organize coupons by their expiration date. So, for example, the coupons that expire in August go in the second pocket. In the back is where I keep my receipts in case of returns. Then before I go shopping, I flip through to see what coupons I need that day and put them in the empty front pocket.

  14. Thanks for the reply! I might try that b/c I hate throwing away unused/expired coupons - if I am not using one I like to leave it on the store shelf for someone else.


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