Thursday, March 5, 2009

Thrifty Thursday~ Meal Planning

The key to saving money on groceries is meal planning! Even if you don't clip coupons you will still save money by planning your meals around what is on sale. However, let me make it clear that if you plan your meal around what's on sale AND use your coupons you will save a lot of money! All it takes is a little time and organization. I've created the below tools to make it easy and fun!

1. Figure out what is on sale. I do this by looking at the newspaper ads and at grocery store websites. I also go to Coupon Mom, select my state and store, and use the list it generates to see all of the specials with existing coupons. You can also browse Hot Coupon World or BeCentsAble to make sure you're not missing any great deals. Wednesday is when the weekly sales are announced and I try to shop on Thursday.

2. Plan your weekly meals. Print and laminate my Carolina Clipper Weekly Meal Planner. Use an overhead marker (the dry erase markers will smudge) and hang on your fridge. Wipe clean with water the following week to use it over and over! Another tip: instead of searching my cookbooks and recipe box every week I created this Recipes At A Glance tool. I simply filled in our favorite meals and glance at this to plan my meals around what is on sale. It's a time saver for sure!

3. Create your shopping list. Use my Carolina Clipper Store Shopping List to make your trips quick and easy! Generally you'll be getting 10 items or less at one store because you're only getting the items that are on special AND for which you have a coupon. I go to three or four stores on Thursday morning and it takes me about an hour...with a small baby. Pull your coupons before you go to the store so that you're prepared.

Happy shopping!


Kristi said...

Richelle, you give us the best hints and tricks of the trade. Thank you so much for mentoring us.

Sarah Joy said...

Richelle, I have been following your tips over the past few weeks adn thinking your way over. I am pretty thrifty, just do it a little differently... question... how do you implement the use of a Costco type place? We only buy milk there, it is sometimes half the price of HT, Lowes and others places and still cheaper than Aldi and we go through 6 gallons a week. We also buy most meats there because we have three boys!In the summer I buy some produce there because it blows everyone else out of the water including Aldi... which is hard to do. I am pretty good with knowing my prices but want to knwo if you have looked into this at all.
Another qusetion, I was just diagnosed with a pretty bad food allergy and my shopping is all messed up, can't use most coupons adn have to buy so much organic stuff..., I make my own bread now. Life has changed! Our food bill is rapidly increasing. I am allergic to SOY and it is in everything. We are extrememly committed to a cash budget and honoring God with our first fruits. We know that heis our complete and sole provision. I believe that in the past he is the one who has given me the wisdom to cut corners and save the way I have been able to thus far but it is a little overwhelming right now... do you have any insights for this area? Thank you for your wisdom and encouragement.

Chandra said...

I LOVE all your advice and have little by little implementing it, and getting great deals (and feeling a little guilty after 9 yrs. of marriage, I'm JUST now getting the hang of it).

I, too, have a hard time with the whole Costco thing too. I always buy milk and meats there. I think it all comes back to the Price Grid
When I get the time to go by myself, I would like to get that price grid filled in - especially with stuff like paper towels and T.P - I am always conflicted as to whether I take advantage of Paper Towel/T.P. coupons, or just buy there.

Thanks for your post and all the tips and advice - very very helpful.

Chandra said...

One more thing: On the Shopping list, what is "O.O.P."?

Carolina Clipper said...

Sarah~ The only way to know the cost of costco vs. other stores is to do the math. It is best to break it down by unit (oz, rolls of toilet paper, diapers, etc). As Chandra mentioned, my price grid is a very good way to track those prices.

It sounds like you are already very aware of the prices for common items that your family uses. I would urge you to go one step further and look for ways to cut back on consumption. Six gallons of milk is a lot. Six months ago we started only drinking milk with breakfast and offering water for lunch and dinner. It was a struggle at first, but now everyone is used to it. (We get our calcium from other sources like cheese, yogurt, etc). You can cut back on your meat by having one leftover night, a meatless night, and using half the meat called for in receipes. I only use two breasts of chicken in all my receipes and no one noticed the change! We have fresh fruits and veggies every week, but only those that are in season and therefore on sale. I have a baking day every other week where I bake healthy things in bulk (muffins, pancakes, etc)and freeze them for easy use.

I'm sorry to hear about your food allergy. Because it's a new thing give yourself some time to adjust. I have a dear friend who shops organic and stays around $75/week. She buys in bulk (chicken, etc) when it's on sale. Again, getting organic fruits, veggies, bread, etc but sticking with the sale items.

I will be praying that the Lord continues to give you wisdom. That He will show you new ways to save. It's a totally different way of THINKING and it sounds like you're making the right steps.

Carolina Clipper said...

Chandra~ OOP= Out of Pocket

Ashlie Miller said...

GREAT ideas....funny, I saw Coupon Mom on the Today show on Friday (day after this post)....and she talked about some similar things. :) I haven't check all the links posted here, so there might be something similar, but I have gone to when I have ingredients but don't know what to make with them. You plug ingredients into the search engine and it finds recipes for you. It could be helpful when looking at sales papers, too. Plug in what's on sale plus ingredients you already have, and voila....a great recipe will pop up for you!

Chandra said...

Richelle - Is there a way to make the Menu Planner a little bigger? Thanks!

Carolina Clipper said...

Chandra~ Here is a link to a bigger weekly meal planner grid. (This only has one grid instead of two.)

Hope that helps!