Sunday, February 13, 2011

Putting Together My Menu

I really started menu planning this year and it gets easier every time I do it.  It makes it easier on my food budget, and it especially prevents me from getting fast food all the time.  I first start with looking at the ads for my local grocery stores. In my area I have: Hy-Vee, Fareway, Dahl's, Aldi's, Trader Joe's, Costco, and Sam's Club.  I mainly just look at Hy-Vee and Fareway ads online.  I plan around what meat they have on sale. I look for less than $1.99/lb.  I then search around the internet for recipes that I would be able to use these meats on, keeping in mind the ingredients I have on hand.  I figure the less complicated ingredients the better.  On weeks that I feel a little overspent, I try for more meatless dishes and to use what's in my freezer and cupboards.  I then make out a grocery list and make sure to check my cupboards for any items I have on hand.  If you have time you can also look for substitutes to save money as well.  I start out by shopping at Aldi's because they have a lot of items for less.  On my grocery list I note prices for any items that were advertised at any of the other stores, this way when I'm at Aldi's I can try to make sure I'm getting the most bang for my buck.  What I can't find at Aldi's I buy at Hy-Vee or Fareway.  There is a Hy-Vee across from the Aldi's so I can hit these two up at the same time.  I work near a Fareway so I can go there right after work.  I make sure to check ads on Wednesday just in case Hy-Vee is having a big sale, which could be Thursday one day, or a two day Friday and Saturday sale.

  I rarely shop at Dahl's because I find them over priced.  I have been to Trader Joe's a few times but it is a little out of my way.  I don't have a Sam's Club membership, but my mom made me a second on her Costco membership so I get in there for free.  I find the best deals are when they have their coupons.

 I am trying to keep a price list going by Shoppee,  an application on my i-touch. You log prices by store and then by category. Then you can log the item name, item price, units/item, units, and notes.  It is easiest to keep the item name broad like eggs instead of large grade A eggs.  Then you can write this part in the notes, and I also include if this is a sale item, if I used a coupon, and the date I was in the store.  After you log these prices in, you can push the shop button and it will show you buy category and item name where you found the best deal.

 I think if I start keeping track of exactly what I buy over a month's period of time, it would help me to be able to buy things a month in advance.  The less shopping trips, the less gas you use, the less impulsive buys, and the more you might make use of something out of your pantry/freezer.  I could also buy things at Costco for a month in advance.  I try to  shop there only once a month so I don't overload on bulk purchases. As always, saving money is a work in progress.

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