What Do YOU Do? : Groceries/Meal Planning

I have recently decided that this summer shall be dubbed “The Summer to Get Organized” (I was going to call it “The Summer to Get My Act Together”, but “The Summer to Get Organized” has a more positive ring, don’t you think?).

What’s in store to get organized? Our house. Our stuff. My systems for organizing said stuff in said house. My systems for cleaning/laundry/etc. Schedules. Communication. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Oh yes, and the fun task of food planning/shopping/etc.

Bottom line: I need to come up with a system for planning/shopping that is somewhat simple *and* cost-effective. As much as it pains me to say it, having my groceries delivered to my door, while handy, is proving *not* to be the most cost-effective option each week.I definitely need to tighten up the ship in that area…but I don’t know how.

So I’m wondering…What Do YOU Do?

Do you plan meal menus? If so, how far in advance (a week? 2 weeks? a month?)

How do you handle your grocery shopping (how often to you go; do you get your dry goods at one store & produce/perishables at another, etc?).

Have you found any good, healthy (read: safe), reasonably-priced options for organic food (produce, etc.?)

Do you utilize coupons?

You get the picture.

Now I turn it over to you, and I BEG you for your answers encourage you to tell me true:

Just What Do YOU Do?!

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18 responses to “What Do YOU Do? : Groceries/Meal Planning

  1. I follow FlyLady – http://www.flylady.net – it’s a wonderful system for cleaning, working out and generally organizing everything. Check her out.

    Veggies try the Richfield farmers market on Sat morning in the shelter a good one for local grown organic, not nearly as busy as downtown and some great buys. I may be partial as I used to walk to it. But it gives kids some place to play with M as you shop for veggies and it’s open until noon so you don’t have to get up early.

    • Thanks for the suggestions, Karen! I’ve heard of FlyLady, but will need to check her out. Does she have wings, large eyes and buzz? ha ha. Bad humor…sorry…

      Good idea about the Farmer’s Market. We have one here in Bloomington each Saturday morning, as well, but I’ve not yet been. I will check it out.
      Thanks!

  2. Bridget Nawrot

    I buy things in bulk (esspecially meat – I’m going to start buying it directly from the farm for a better price and quality) when I can and plan my meals around the meat I have in the freezer. I do our double coupon shopping days and can combine coupons and sales to get things close to free. I have a vegetable garden and hope to be able to freeze some vegetables for at least some of the year. I make as much as I can from scratch (ie pizza’s, tortilla etc) so when planning my meal for the week I just need to check I have my essentials (which I normally do). Also http://www.pocketyourdollars.com has some great deals listed. I visit multiple stores to get what I want at the best price but plan my visits around when it’s convinent to go. Some things like Dawn, toothpaste, shampoo, cereal you should never have to pay much for. Between double coupons and sales they should be close to free. Some people invest so much time shopping for deals their entire shopping list is free!

    • Wow, I’m impressed! Thanks for the tips, Bridget. I have heard of Pocket Your Dollars but haven’t delved into it too deeply. Thanks!

      • I want to second Bridget’s mention of Pocket Your Dollars because it is AWESOME! I have saved so much money because of that site!! (A Christian woman started it as she and her husband paid off $60,000 in debt. What I appreciate most about her is that she has integrity!)

        On Sunday nights, I plan meals for the week from what I have in the pantry and freezer, and make a list of one or two ingredients needed to complete the meals. Which means I can stock up on things we normally use when it’s at a rock-bottom price, especially staples like chicken, ground beef,etc. Then I use Pocket Your Dollars to see if there’s anything we need on the shopping lists for Rainbow, Target and Cub. Can’t tell you how many times I walk out of a store having gotten something FREE because of a coupon.

        I used to use Simon Delivers (when kids were really little) and go to Cub or Target. I thought I was being frugal, but when I realized how much farther I could stretch our budget using coupons, I was a convert. Now we’re at a point where every penny counts and needs to stretch as far as possible. Coupons are free money, and it’s worth the time (as much as you’re able, that’s why Pocket Your Dollars makes it so easy- they tell you where to find the coupon to match up with a store sale.)

        I’m still working on the organization/cleaning schedule, so I’ll let you know when I figure it out!

      • Thanks for the tips, Holly!

  3. Well, Nikki…. I still use Coborns Delivers (I got that idea from YOU last year!). My boys are at an age where, as much as I hate to admit it, they are not very fun to bring on errands — not unless you call making a ‘public spectacle’ of yourselves fun.

    So, no more running from Target to Rainbow to anywhere else to find the best deals in town — we’ve decided to just stick with Coborns. We found that our time is of more value than a few extra bucks on groceries. (Trying not to worship the almighty dollar, while still being prudent with the resources God has given us!) And we actually bought the one-year “delivery pass” — so this week I had fresh produce delivered twice!

    So yes, I do menu planning. Never thought I would need to, but due to the above-mentioned circumstances, it is critical to my success. Every Sunday evening, as I sit in front of the computer creating my grocery order, I write on my calendar/planner what I will make for supper each night for the coming week. That’s the only way I know for sure I’ll have the ingredients I need.

    And no, I don’t use coupons. I have found that I end up buying things I never would have, just because it was $1 off or something…. so I don’t even look at the ads that come in the mail for various stores. I just feel like I have entirely too many other things to tend to!

    However, like Bridget mentioned, I do buy in bulk — so I’m not making a dozen trips a month to Target. Multiple boxes of Cheerios and Goldfish crackers, several bottles of maple syrup, the big pack of toilet paper, etc. My goal is to go to Target once per month.

    • Thanks Sara! I like those ideas…and I didn’t know about the Coborn’s delivery pass. I love the idea of getting produce 2x a week. Anyway, that all sounds similar to what I’m currently doing — but a bit more organized! Something maybe I could realistically do. Phew! 🙂

      • One other thing I forgot to mention that I love about Coborn’s Delivers….. I can do a comparison of three different brands of salad dressing or bread or whatever, and determine which one I’d like to purchase based on nutrition information, price, etc. I love that feature!

  4. A couple things I didn’t include in my blog that I’m remembering!
    The farmer’s market – find one that’s close and ask LOTS of questions – you can find a great farmer who’s local that’s totally organic but still has great prices.
    Gardening – I’m slowly trying and learning and most likely failing at some things but I have a goal to grow my own produce!
    Homemade – I also am slowly weaning out processed goods and replacing them with homemade ones. Eventually things like yogurt, mayo, ranch, salad dressings, bread, soups, and broths will be made from scratch at home.

  5. This is such a big issue! I meal plan every Sunday night by first “shopping” my cupboards. I try to build as many meals as possible around what we already have. I also do a lot of price-matching at Wal-Mart, which is where I shop every Monday (and sometimes I go to Aldi, too). Some great couponing sites are MoneySavingMom and $30 Weekly Grocery Challenge! I think the keys for me are planning meals ahead and only shopping once a week–no matter what! 🙂

    • Bethany, Thanks for sharing and for the links! I love the idea of “shopping your cupboards”. I am going to implement that one, for sure!

  6. Well, we’re feeding ten over here (more on many days as the kids frequently have kids over for meals), so meal planning is an absolute necessity. It also keeps me from buying too many “extra” items. I menu plan once a week.

    I shop once a week, although I have to make mid-week trips to Kwik Trip for milk (we go through 12 gallons a week). I sometimes need to pick up fresh fruit mid-week and often go to Sam’s Club for that as they have good prices on (usually) good fruit.

    I am an avid coupon shopper and consider it a failure if I can’t save at least 10% off my bill. As someone already mentioned though you have to be diligent about not buying things you don’t need just because they’re on coupon. When things are on sale (really good sales, not the $.25 off kind) I stock up, so I read the Cub add faithfully every week.

    I buy store brands on most items. There are a few name brands I am very loyal to (peanut butter, laundry detergent, etc.), but many things I don’t mind the store brand.

    I have an excel spreadsheet of frequently bought items to use as a shopping list. I hang it on my refrigerator and then when I run out of something I just have to check a box on the the list. It’s arranged in store-order to make shopping easier (which means I REALLY don’t like it when they rearrange things at the store – which seems to happen weekly these days).

    We typically buy our beef from a farm which is WAY cheaper than buying from the grocery store and the quality is much better.

    Well, that’s about all I can think of at this time of the morning. Oh yeah, I shop early on Saturday morning so I can get in and out quicker and since I’m only half awake I’m less likely to buy impulse items. My impulse sensor apparently doesn’t wake up until after 10:00 🙂

    • Great tips Barb, thanks! I love the “master shopping list” idea. I actually just made a list like that for my monthly Target runs and am in the process of making one for groceries, too.
      And I like the early morning shopping tip, too. I’d be less impulsive, too. And there would be fewer people to get annoyed with (though that’s not exactly the most godly reason for shopping early, is it. Hmm.) 🙂

  7. Couponing is definitely something I want to get into! I just haven’t invested the time in learning right now and wonder with the changes we’re making if it would be beneficial. But now I’m pondering which is good!

    • I feel the same way about all this advice from everybody! So many great ideas…I know that not all of it would work for me and where I am at with life, but it’s giving me TONS to ponder, which I really appreciate! 🙂

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