As you can probably guess I like to stay organized. Yes, I plan the menu for the week each week on the blog but in real life, I already have the entire month planned. The greatest app on my mac is the ical. I don't know how I ever lived with out it. Right now the system for the month's groceries is very random and usually depends on the first week of sales at Publix. I really really hate going to the grocery store. People laugh at me when I tell them I only go once a month but for Ross and I it works. I don't stockpile on the non-necessities and we really don't keep that many snacks. However, there are the occasional "free" items at Publix that I will pick up. Our monthly budget on groceries is $200 but lately we have only been spending $150 which equals out to $37/week. Here is how it ends up working:
1. I pick up the Publix/ Target weekly add
2. Look up the match-ups for their sales here
3. Print/clip coupons
4. Begin making a menu with the ingredients that I already have at home and adding the things that I need that are on sale
5. Make a grocery list
6. Don't buy anything that is either not on sale or you don't have a coupon for
7. Plug each dinner into ical
I usually try to come up with 12 meals for the month or three a week. I don't cook on the weekends and 2 meals during the week are either leftovers, fend for yourself night, or I make something quick like an Amy's frozen pizza.
When coming up with recipes my greatest resource is allrecipes.com. Not only can you look up a meal but you can also type in any ingredients that you might have on hand, click search, and the site shows you all of the recipes that include these ingredients. Genius.
I do stockpile when it comes to meat. I normally only cook chicken and ground turkey so when they are marked down to $1.99/lb I buy at least 5 lbs each. I then separate the meat out of the packaging into freezer ziplock bags according to the amount I need for each recipe. I also keep my eye out when pork and beef are on sale and will included a recipe according to the on sale meat in my menu. Sam's Club or Costco is another a great place to stock up on your meat.
I stick to the season when buying fruits and vegetables. Its cheaper and easier to find. My secret weapon is buying at a local Farmer's Market. 1. Less expensive 2. I love supporting local farmers (my grandfather was a farmer) 3. Its found that local produce is better for you.
In the end the monthly menu is a great way for my husband and I to save money. Ross loves knowing exactly what we are having for dinner each night and gives him no excuse to eat out- otherwise he would every night. There are always those unexpected occasions where what you planned doesn't always work. For instance, tonight I planned on cooking taco soup but today we were invited to eat dinner at friend's house and watch Idol. This is exactly why I have the 2 floating days in the menu, I will cook it tomorrow night which was leftover night.
Going to the grocery store once a month does not work for everyone. With no kids in the picture our shopping list is slim. I am also trying to think of new ways to make my system more effective so if you have an suggestions I would love to hear them! You can also learn how I coupon/budget here.