It is no secret that one of the best ways to save money with your grocery budget is to have a menu. There are many websites, blog posts, and pins on Pinterest (exposing my new distraction) that share many creative ways to make a menu. Nearly 2-years-ago I found one on Design Sponge that worked for me, and I have not turned back. Today, I thought I would share my system with you!
This menu works great for our family because there is a menu section, a grocery list, and daily small spaces where I am able to write what I need to prep.
How it works:
- I sit down on Tuesdays and check out the weekly ads. The EWG List is also on hand to see where it is most wise to buy organic. For me, in the Dallas area, I look at the Sprouts and Whole Foods ads. I make note of what is on sale, and start to build my menu around sale items and what I normally buy from Costco.
- There are many sites I search to find healthy recipes. All Recipes allows me to enter ingredients I want and don't want in a recipe. Cooking Light has their "In Season" section I have previously blogged about. Everyday Paleo is another favorite recipe site of mine. And if you know me well, you know I have a deep love for Ree (The Pioneer Woman)!
- From there I figure out what meat I will need for the week. Since we have gone organic and free-range it is not too often I find meat on sale. I pay $2.39/lb for Rosie's free-range organic chicken at Sprouts, and around $4.50/lb for free-range, hormone-free beef at Matador.
- Once the days are filled in I write all the food I will need for the day on the list below that day. So if I'm making tacos ground beef, seasoning, an onion, romaine lettuce hearts, tortillas, cheese, and carrots will all be on the list for that day. Listing things out like this may seem excessive, but it keeps me from first overbuying, and then helps insure that I actually use everything I bought. In our home it is also great because Brandon likes to cook. If Brandon sees that I need that one green pepper in the fridge on Friday he won't use it on Wednesday.
- On the "Oh, I also need..." section I put snack items, fresh fruit, and other random things like oil, peanut butter, and toilet paper.
- If you open the link, you will see that there are small spots under each day. In that small spot is where I will put anything I need to do to prep for meals. If I need to soak grains and beans, or make lunches because we will be out of the house the next day, then it is written in that spot.
- I keep my menu posted on my refrigerator on a clipboard that I made after seeing the Design Sponge Post. I am currently working on a "Food Binder" to store past menus, recipes, and pantry/freezer inventory lists. I highly recommend keeping your old menus, because I find that if I'm stumped on what to make that I can look at old menus for inspiration (and to know what my family liked/disliked).
If you keep a menu, do you have any tips for others? If you have tried to keep a menu in the past, what made you stop? I would like to hear from others about what has or has not worked for them.