Save Money by Menu Planning

In previous articles I have stressed the benefits of Stockpiling and coupons. If you don;t do these things it is still easy to do menu planning.

Step 1- Take a look at your "Stockpile Store"

This is one of the benefits of having a stockpile. I not only have a stockpile in my basement for non perishable items but I also make sure to keep my freezer and deep freezer stocked at all times for this reason! Take a look at what you have and what your family might like that week. We have a few staples that we almost always have every week for a meal. Pasta or make your own pizzas are a couple of these meals. I always make sure to have enough pasta and pasta sauce and frozen shredded cheese on hand. All you have to do is add a few fresh or frozen vegetables to your sauce for your pasta, or add some frozen meat and vegetables to your pizzas shells and you have a quick and easy meal. Going through what you already have is a good first step in planning your menu. This will help you to use up food items before they expire too, which is always a bonus!

Step 2- Check out your sales fliers

For the couponers out there, you know how important it is to go through your fliers. I use to actually throw away my fliers every week thinking that they were just garbage. Now I know better! Check out your sales fliers for what is on sale that week. Know how to read your fliers because the cheapest items are usually on the front page. These items are referred to as "loss-leaders" which basically means that these items are priced the absolute lowest prices the store can go for the week. Try to use some of those items in your menu planing to get the best bang for your buck. Make sure to check all of your fliers to get the best deals as well. Just because one place has something on sale doesn't make it the lowest prices overall. Make sure to either shop at a few stores or price match your items. Also check fliers for weekly/monthly deals such as 10%Tuesdays or Seniors Day discounts for those of you that are older. Shopping on those days will help your dollar stretch even further. I also try to see if I can get extra points for specific products that I buy. Airmiles or Sobeys club points add up fast for free items.

Step 3- Match your coupons

For those of you that coupon this is a weekly thing that you would do anyways. I couldn't imagine not matching my coupons to my fliers every week! Go through your coupons to see if any of your coupons match up with the products in the fliers. It is the best way to get the most value from your coupons and you can often get products for FREE or at very low prices.

When doing steps 2&3 it's important to remember the Season Sale Cycles. Picking items that are seasonal with help with the budget as well Here is a small list of some season sales cycles for food items. (Each area will have there own sales cycles for produce according to when it is harvested.)

January:
- Snack Items
- Chili, Soups, Stews
-National Oatmeal Month: Quaker
-Diet Foods including: Healthy Choice, South Beach, Lean Cuisine, Special K, Kashi, Smart Start, 100 Calorie Packs
-Super Bowl Sunday: Pepsi, Coke, Chips, Dips, Cheese, sandwich items, crackers, snacks, wings
-Seasonal Produce: Oranges, Pears,Grapefruit, Tangerines, Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chard, Collards, Kale, Kiwi, Avocado, Cabbage, Spinach

February:
-National Canned Food Month: Canned Fruit, Vegetables, meats: Tuna, chicken, salmon, pie fillings
-National Hot Breakfast Month: Malt O Meal, Oatmeal, Eggo Waffles, Syrup
-Valentines: Chocolate, Hershey's, KY Lubricant, etc
-Chinese New Year: Soy Sauce, Teriyaki Sauce, Noodles
-Seasonal Produce: Artichoke, Asparagus, Raspberries, Potatoes, Strawberries, Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chard, Collards, Kale, Kiwi, Avocado, Spinach
- Oatmeal

March:
-Frozen Food Month: Frozen Meals, TGI Fridays, Contessa, Foster Farms Chicken, Eggo, Sara Lee, Healthy Choice, DiGiorno, Freschetta, Breyers, Dreyers, Marie Callendars
-Seasonal Produce: Artichoke, Asparagus, Avocado, Haas, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chard, Collards, Fennel, Kale, Leek, Lemon, Lime, Mushrooms, Onions, Spring, Orange, Peas, Radish, Rhubarb, Spinach, Strawberries, Tangerine
- Easter Items

April:
-Easter: Ham, Eggs, Some Baking Supplies: sugar, spices, baking mixes, chocolate chips
-Earth Day: Organic foods, Energy saver
-Seasonal Produce: Artichokes, Asparagus, Beets, Broccoli, Cabbages, Carrots, Grapefruit, Hass Avocado, Mushrooms, Onions, Peas, Rhubarb
- Cheese
- Cake Mix & Frosting

May:
-Memorial Day: BBQ Sauce, Ketchup, condiments, charcoal, salad dressing, potato chips, dips
-Cinco De Mayo: Salsa, tortillas
-Seasonal Produce: Artichokes, Asparagus, Avocado, Beans, Green, Beets, Blackberries, Carrots, Onions, Sweet Vidalia, Peas, Edible Pods, Peas, English/Shelling, Potatoes, New, Raspberries, Strawberries
- Pop & Bottled Water
- Salad Dressing
- Ice Cream
- Frozen Vegetables

June:
-National Dairy Month: Eggs, Milk (Free Milk Catalina, wyb cereal), Ice Cream, Cheese, Butter, Yogurt, cool whip, In-store dairy coupons or booklets
-End of June is Fourth or July Sales: Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, BBQ Sauce, Ketchup, condiments, charcoal, salad dressing, potato chips, dips
-Seasonal Produce: Apricots, Blackberries, Blueberries, Boysenberries, Cherries, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Grapes, Honeydew, Nectarines, Peaches, Potatoes, Raspberries, Red Onions, Squash, Summer, Strawberries, Sweet Vidalia Onions, Tomatoes, Watermelon
- Ice Cream
- Hotdogs
- Condiments
- Hotdog & Hamburger Buns
- Ground Beef

July:
-National Ice Cream Month
-More 4th of July BBQ Sales: Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, BBQ Sauce, Ketchup, condiments, charcoal, salad dressing, potato chips, dips
-End of July: Back to School Sales begin: crayons, pencils, folders, binders
-Seasonal Produce: Asian Pears, Bartlett Pears, Beans, Green, *Blueberries, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Figs, Garlic, Grapes, Nectarines, Onions, Red, Oranges, Valencia, Peaches, Peppers, Sweet/Bell, Plums, Potatoes, Squash, Summer, Tomatoes, Watermelon
- Hotdogs
- Condiments
- Hotdog & Hamburger Buns
- Ground Beef
- Pop & Bottled Water

August:
-Back to School: Pudding cups, Lunch meat,
-Seasonal Produce: Apple, Gravenstein, Avocado, Hass, Beans, Beans, Green, Berries, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Figs, Grapes, Melons, Onion, Peaches, Pears, Bartlett, Pepper, Bell, Plums, Raspberries, Squash, Summer, Tomatillo, Tomato
- Cereal
- Peanut Butter
- Jam/Jelly
- Juice Boxes
- Breakfast Bars
- Cookies
- Crackers
- Bottled Water

September:
-Back to School Sales through labor day: crayons, pencils, folders, binders
-Diabetes: Bayer Glucose Meters, Glucerna Cereal
-Seasonal Produce: Apples, Artichokes, Beans, Bell Peppers, Chile Peppers, Cucumber, Eggplant, Grapes, Onion, Orange, Valencia, Pears, Asian, Pears, Bartlett, Pomegranate, Squash, Tomatillo, Tomatoes, Winter Squash
- Canned Goods
- Yogurt
- Cookies

October:
-Halloween: Candy
-Beginning of the baking sales: Canned pumpkin, evap milk, baking chips
-National Seafood Month
-Seasonal Produce: Almonds, Apples, Artichokes, Arugula, Beets, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbages, Chard, Chestnuts, Cranberries, Lemons, Parsnip, Pears, Pomegranate, Potatoes, Potatoes, Sweet, Pumpkin, Spinach, Squash, Winter, Turnips, Yams
- Candy
- Dried Fruits

November:
-Baking Sales on nuts, chocolate chips, evap milk, sweetened condensed milk, coconut, cake mixes
Canned foods - soup, broth, condensed milk, vegetables, fruits, spaghetti sauce
Turkey, canned pumpkin, stovetop stuffing, betty crocker boxed potatoes, gravy mixes, rhodes rolls, frozen pies, cranberry sauce, jello, marshmallows
-Seasonal Produce: Anjou Pears, Beets, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts,
- Spices
- Pie Crusts & Filling
- Candy & Chocolates (clearance items from Halloween)

December:
-Egg Nog,
-Deli Platters,
- Instant Potatoes
-gravy mixes
- Snack Foods
- Canned Goods
- Cereal
- Frozen Pizzas
- Ham
- Cheese
- Dinner Rolls
- Cake Mix & Frosting

Step 4- Start planning your menu according to the previous steps

Breakfast is usually easy in our house. (oatmeal, cereal, pancakes, fruit shakes) Breakfast is usually easy meals on the go. Lunch is also usually pretty easy. We are big on soups, sandwiches, fruit and salads and we love leftovers. Dinners are harder. Since I stockpile freezer items I often take something from there if I need to fill a night. When I'm unsure how to piece my ingredients together to make a great meal, I often use the Ingredient Search feature from All Recipes. All I have to do is type in the ingredients that I have, and the ingredients that I don't have and it will pull up a list of recipes that I can make. Awesome! Since we buy items that are on sale, we get to try new recipes all the time. If I need help with some ideas I refer to my recipe book or do searches online. Snacks are also an easy one to do at our house. I make sure to buy enough veggies for veggies and dip, cheese and crackers, and fresh fruit. We also like to have cereals sometime for a fast snack.

Step 5-- Freezer cooking

Freezer cooking is cooking large amounts of food at the same time and freezing it for later dates. I often spend an entire day freezer cooking but it saves me time and money in the long run. There are so many different recipes that you can make while freezer cooking. Sheppards pies, baked lasagnas, baked spaghetti, soups and stews are just a few of my favorites. If you are at a loss as to what to make for dinner one night or maybe you don't like whats on your menu plan, just grab something from the freezer and throw it in the oven for a no fuss dinner for your family! When I am planning my menus I often plan certain days a month to Freezer Cook and add those extra expenses into my budget.

We don't always stick to our menu plan everyday but just having one to follow saves us money. It make take some extra time when you first start but once you get the hang of it it is really quite easy!

The Author:

I am a mother of two little boys and I run the Organize My Frugal Life website. I am alwyas looking for ways to save money for my family and I try to help other do the same by blogging about it. www.organizemyfrugallife.blogspot.com

Photo Credit: Grant Cochrane | Freedigitalphotos.net

Article Source: Articlesbase.com

Article Posted: October 4, 2013

Related Articles

No Comments Yet.

Leave a comment