How do you do it?
I used to just buy whatever. I bought a handful of the same things and then threw in a couple of extras I knew I didn't need. I never budgeted. I never made a list. And I didn't plan meals. I hardly ever had a meal prepped before four because I was still trying to decide what to make?
THAT got annoying. So I made some changes and this is how I keep our kitchen stocked with food and make meals.
1. I get the Sunday paper. Do you? You totally should. It's my favorite to read through the paper, clip coupons (GOSH THAT'S MY FAVORITE!), and go through the ad's.
I make a list of things that are on sale that I usually buy. I also make a list of items that are on sale at random stores (Walgreens, ShopKo, etc.) so if I need them I can price match them at Wal Mart that week.
I am a Wal Mart Hater. There I said it. But sometimes when I need toilet paper, a bar of soap and some shampoo, I want the best prices. And when they're all on sale at different stores, I find it's the best option to price match those ten items at Wal Mart.
I try really hard to buy groceries from the local grocery stores. The employees are nicer to me and my kids. They have free samples for my kids. They bag my groceries and offer my kids balloons and Smarties. They help me to the car. The produce at the local grocery stores is ALWAYS better. And if you know what's on sale you can buy those things for a good deal and make MEALS off of them.
2. So once I've gone through the ad's and made my beautiful lists of things on sale, I make my dinner menu.
If we've had a big piece of meat for our Sunday dinner then I put down a meal or two that I can make with the leftover meat. I try to have 2-3 meatless meals a week. And then I put a few other meals with things from my food storage or things I can buy that week on sale. Breakfast seems to always be one of my meals. Whether it's pancakes or eggs and toast, it's on the menu once a week.
3. Then I make my grocery list.
I usually have an ongoing list on my fridge that I add to throughout the week. When I finish off the ketchup or the baking soda, I add to the list. Then I can take that with me when I go shopping. I add any other grocery items that I know we need or to make any of the meals I'm going to for that week. I might add a handful of long term food storage items (a few cans of beans, boxes of mac n cheese, etc.) And of course I add the snacks - graham crackers, popcorn, tortilla chips. Yes, we're unhealthy over here :) I do try really hard to have enough produce in our house for a whole week. Enough for snacks, to add to meals, etc.
4. And then my FAVORITE part. I organize my coupons from the Sunday paper.
I look to see if there are any killer sales that when I use the coupon with it will make it an even BETTER sale! I go through my coupon folders and grab any out that will expire that week and any coupons that have sales for those items. To be honest, I'm not the best couponer. I probably throw away just as many or more than I use. But I feel awesome cutting them out and giving them to the cashier. I've gotten shampoo for .29, Oreos for 1.50 and name brand toilet paper for 3.00.
5. I pile my coupons and lists together and go shopping Monday :)
I shop around the store getting my list of items and then I'm naughty and I walk through the aisles looking to see if there are any extra sale items.
6. OH! And I have a limit of how much to spend each week and I try really really REALLY hard to stick to that. Knowing that number helps me to put things back that aren't a need.