This is How I Do It: Menu Planning

Menu Planning has brought so much peace to my home.  There is something so calming about knowing what you plan on eating for the day, and that you have what you need to prepare it all.  But, it took a little time to get into the habit of doing it every most weeks.  For me it’s all about making things habit.  If I do them every week at the same time each week I will eventually do them without much thought or effort.
I have come up with a little system that works really well for me.  And while I know everyone has to find the system that works for them, I thought I’d share what I do in case it may give any of you some inspiration or ideas to improve your menu planning routine. 
I base my Menu Plan on what is currently on sale, or what we have in the freezer, fridge, and pantry that I bought on sale. At first it was a little overwhelming trying to juggle the ad matches from the blogs, recipes and meal planning.  A little time, patience, and consistency have paid off though. Here’s is how I do it…
1. Make your Ad Matching Lists- I visit Southern Savers once a week for each store I shop at.  She posts the drugstores and Kroger on Saturday,Target and Wal-mart on Monday, and  Publix on Tuesday night.  I make my main grocery lists, print them out and gather whatever coupons I need. 
2. Plan Your Menu Around the Sales and What You Have On Hand- Then, I sit down with my recipe books, my shopping lists, and laptop to plan my menu for the week. I refer to my shopping lists and what I know is in my pantry to decide what to fix.  I usually sit in the kitchen so I can open the pantry or freezer to see what I have to work with. I do this on Sundays.  I use my new Kroger list and plan around what I bought at the other stores the previous week.  I shop on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  Most of what I plan around is already in the house.  The things I buy in the upcoming week will be used in the next weeks’ menu. This works because of what I explain in #3.
3. Stick to Some Basic Recipes- If you follow my Menu Plan here at JCAH you know I make pretty much the same things each week with an occasional new  recipe sprinkled in.  This works for us.  We like our favorites and look forward to eating them each week.  It also simplifies my menu planning and grocery shopping.  And it keep the budget lower because I know what to stock up on when it is a rock bottom price.
4. Add Any Other Needed Items to Your Lists- The last thing I do is add any ingredients or staples I need to complete any of my recipes of meals. 
5. Extras- If it is not on sale we don’t buy it.  There are always plenty of snack foods on sale to choose from.  I basically have the same policy for fresh fruits and veggies.  Usually, the produce on sale is what is in season anyway, and much tastier because of it. I am actually able to keep more of what the grits love by only buying it when it is on sale and stocking up.  And with the money I save I am able to treat them to an occasional high price item (when it is on sale with a coupon) that I would not have been able to afford in the past. 
Hope that all make sense! If you have any questions  just leave them in the comments section and I’ll be sure to respond as quickly as possible.

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