How My Kitchen Works : Meal Planning & Grocery Shopping

How My Kitchen Works : Meal Planning & Grocery Shopping

Joyfully Mom Menu Planning & Grocery Shopping

Just a little organization goes a long way.  When I’m not organized, I’m a little crazy.  Seriously, I’m not a good mom, I’m not a good wife, I’m not good to myself.  I’m cranky and I start to make bad choices.  I’ve always loved to cook, and I’ve always been pretty organized.  So when I’m off, and I’m not planning and organizing my meals, I’m a mess and everyone suffers.

Meal Planning:

Every Sunday I develop our meal plan for the next week (you can download my meal planning worksheet here). First, this saves us money by not eating out nearly as much as we did in the past, but it also has other benefits such as knowing exactly what it is we are putting in our mouths. We want our son to eat healthy, and therefore we need to make healthier choices.

Joyfully Mom - Meal Planning

So, every Sunday morning, while sipping my coffee and watching Food Network, (Ree, – I can’t miss a show), I get my menu together. First, I look at the online circular for my local grocery store and see if there is anything I should stock up on or menu plan around. Then, I add any activities we have planned for the upcoming week into my planning worksheet that would change my normal schedule, i.e.: “Outdoor Discovery Program until 5:30”, “Play date”, or “David Volunteer Night at Ambulance Corp”. This helps me to figure out what’s best based on our time commitments, as well as what type of menu items work best for that night. For example,  David doesn’t like breakfast for dinner. Nicholas and I love it. So at least once a week we are able to enjoy some pancakes or “fluffy eggs” after sunset. If it’ll be a later dinner, I will usually choose a crock pot meal so that the end of the day, and family dinner time isn’t rushed.  Family dinner together is a requirement in our home.

I find the whole process relaxing, honestly.  A meal plan isn’t hard at all. I usually add some family stand-bys, like chili, homemade soup, lomo saltado or pot roast to the mix and then I  look through my mother’s old Betty Crocker cookbook, and through my many Pinterest boards to come up with the rest. We’re lucky that our son will try anything, and has a pretty developed pallet for five, so that doesn’t usually limit me in what I decide to make (other than very spicy meals). I don’t, and I won’t make two separate meals. I came from the home of “take it or leave it”, and that’s how things are done in my house.

Once I have a week’s worth of menus figured out, I go ahead and order them.  Yes.  I said order them.

Grocery Shopping:

I’ll admit it. I love grocery shopping. I really do. I always have. Probably because I love to cook.  I love going down each of the aisles and devising meal plans as I go. Looking at all of the fresh ingredients, and seeing what’s new. However; I find that I often impulse buy rather than sticking to my meal plan or the shopping list I have in my hand, and as a result, spend a lot more than I should.

About a year ago I decided I’d give one of those “order online” programs at my local grocery a try. It was right before Thanksgiving, and two of the three of us had been sick for almost a week. I enjoy hosting Thanksgiving & Christmas, and I was completely unprepared.  We were on the mend, but I still didn’t feel well enough to go grocery shopping. So, I bit the bullet and I ordered online. I haven’t looked back.

Over the past year I have saved about 25% off of what I had been spending at the grocery store.  How?

  1. You watch each and every item you add to your “cart” change your total, so you are much more aware of what you are spending.
  2. There isn’t any impulse spending.
  3. There isn’t a five-year-old in your cart asking for each colorful and crazy thing as we pass.
  4. It’s easy to look up the flyers for other local grocery stores and compare to see if you are getting the best price.
  5. My grocery store will match a coupon from a competing grocery store and apply it to my order. I can research those offers and bring their coupons when I pay.
  6. You can download digital coupons from your store directly onto your loyalty card.
  7. You are eligible for coupons that won’t necessarily work in the store (i.e.: There is a standing coupon for my grocery store for $20 off of $200 for the shop from home option.  That’s a whole lot of coupon cutting I don’t need to do).
  8. Time is money.  If I’m not taking over an hour to shop, I can be blogging, or working on other income producing projects).

I don’t opt for delivery, as our grocery store is on the way to my son’s school and I can easily just walk in, give them my name along with any coupons I have, and walk back out with my groceries.  Delivery is an option though, as is pick up where they will simply bring it all out to your car and help you load it up.  The convenience is priceless.

I just got finished re-reading  The Tao of Martha, My Year of LIVING; Or, Why I’m Never Getting All That Glitter Off of the Dog by Jen Lancaster. Absolutely fantastic. Her humor is amazing. Love her.  Summer always derails me.  It’s hot, it’s humid, and just plain gross.  It’s the only time of year I’m not as organized.  Re-reading this gem helped me get back into gear for this fall and get back to my organized self, starting with my regular meal planning/shopping process.  It also reminded me that everything doesn’t have to be perfect. A good reminder since I’m so far from it.

I hope you find some of my methods helpful!



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