So I've talked a few times in my blogs about menu planning. It is a discipline I stumbled upon myself in my first stint of this couponing thing, but it wouldn't have taken me long to see a lot about it. It's on every couponing website at some point.
BUT, it can seem tricky and overwhelming if you haven't done it before.
So here is, in short, what I do:
1.) I check my pantry / fridge to see what I already have as far as meat, frozen veggies, and boxed dinners are concerned.
2.) I have a going shopping list of random things I know I'll need but I know I don't check for in step one. Like this week, stick butter is on my running list.
3.) I then create as many dinners out of those items I found in number one, using as many ingredients as I have in the house as I can. (You'll see this below.)
4.) Lastly I look at sale ads (for me I check Kroger because that's where I shop. If you shop at Walmart, look there), and I check my coupons to see what else I can add to my menu plan for the cheapest that week.
Here is my menu plan for the next two weeks (we do two weeks, some people do one). NOTE: I don't plan what nights particularly we are having what... though if I have a product that could go bad I try to use that meal plan early. You'll see. My meals for the next 15 days are these:
1. Sausage / fries (we have these two items already in the house.. its the kind of sausage you put on the grill.)
2. Spaghetti with meat sauce, salad and bread. (only using 1/2 lb hamburger) I just need salad for this meal.
3. Hamburgers (out of the other 1/2 lb hamburger), pasta salad, fruit and chips. I need the fruit, chips, and italian dressing for this one. Not to mention hamburger buns. I'll use this stuff later too, though.
4. Pork tenderloin on the grill, corn, bread, fruit. I just need the fruit in this meal.
5. BBQ from leftover tenderloin and onion rings. Need the onion rings for this one.
6. Macaroni Grill boxed dinner, salad. Just need salad.
7. Grilled Chicken breasts, grilling beans, corn. I need another bag of corn.
8. Biscuits, gravy, sausage, eggs, fruit. Need the fruit and eggs.
9. Beef and Noodles, mashed potatoes, biscuits. I have everything for this meal.
10. Chicken casserole, peas, and bread. I need peas for this one.
11. Hamburger helper, salad, bread. I need the hamburger helper. I chose this meal because I have a digital coupon and a paper coupon that I can stack to get the helper cheap and 3 packages of hamburger in the freezer.
12. Sundays at our house have now been deemed "leftover or sandwich" suppers.
13. Sunday #2 in that 15 day plan.
14. & 15. I allot these because we'll probably eat out twice in that two week span.
SO - from that list, for dinners, I have to have: 2 salad mixes, hamburger buns, italian dressing, thousand island dressing (aaron's fave and we're having lots of salads), fruit, chips, onion rings, corn, eggs, peas, and hamburger helper.
For lunches we'll do leftovers, sandwiches, chips, fruit, and yogurt.
Breakasts will include cinnamon rolls, cereal, yogurt, toast, or toaster strudels.
Of these I'll purchase: bread, lunch meat, hot dogs, hot dog buns, yogurt, and cereal. I have everything else.
And of course, we always need milk and juice.
So my actual 'shopping list' to feed us isn't huge this time. So, I take the 'other' money in my grocery money to stock up on 'on sale' items that I have coupons for so that my next meal planning ends up like this one, with a lot of stuff already in my pantry and fridge.
Hope this helps!