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Meal Planning & Grocery Shopping If you plan out your meals, grocery shopping bills can be sliced and diced!

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Old 06-10-2004, 03:59 PM
2-Beady-Eyes's Avatar
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help... coupon organization, meal/menu planning and more..

Hi everyone. I'm new to everything... I started using coupons recently, but just keeping them with me, remembering that i have a coupon for certain things, and keeping then up to date is hard... how do you do it? I bought some picture album page inserts (like baseball card pages, but made for picture albums), hoping that will help.

Also, I'm trying to really cut out the junk food - which is what we turn to when we don't have anything planned... So I'm trying to get the "menu/meal planning" thing. I don't know anything about it - my parents never let on if they even did this, so I'm clueless. Any suggestions would be helpful.

Also, I've heard of a price book... what is this, and how would i go about making/buying one?

Thank you in advance.
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Old 06-15-2004, 01:28 PM
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Location: With the Cows in Wisconsin
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I'm sorry that I don't have any good suggestions, but I completely agree with your post. Especially now that is summer I don't feel like cooking in the kitchen. I think my DD has had PB&J for lunch for the past 2 weeks.
I once tried making a monthly or weekly calendar and putting in my ideas and making a grocery list out of that. My only problem is that I would have no idea what would be on sale and could possibly spend more money than I should. I'm very interested in seeing everyone elses ideas too.
Married to DH 10/9/99
Mother to DD 10/30/01
Mother to DS 6/13/03

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Old 07-03-2004, 06:09 PM
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Hi Row,

I've been couponing for a very long time 25+ years. Keep things as simple as possible. I use a rubbermaid box for my coupons (I used to use a shoe box) at home. I use a plain sheet of paper for my list. No need to waste money on a price book that will just complicate things for now. A notebook or just plain paper works just as well. My most used coupons I keep in a photo album from the Dollar store. I have the first page for any FREE product coupons so I don't forget to use them. My other pages consist of coupons for items I use regularly. I keep empty pages in the back so when I find any coupons or rebates in the store that's where I put them until I get home. I could give you tons of ideas.

As far as menu planning. It's not as bad as you think. I keep boneless,skinless chicken breasts stocked up when there is a sale and use those quite a bit for meals adding lipton sides and a veggie and/or salad. There are many easy and quick meals to prepare. In the summertime we cook out most of the time on the grill.

What kinds of foods does your family like? Make a list and start there for planning a menu.

As far as cutting out junk food. One big trick is to Not keep any in the house so if you want it you have to go to the store to buy it. Fruits are a great idea as they are easy and plentiful. Right now bing cherries are on sale.

Check the local store flyers if you receive them in the mail. I make a list from that using coupons, etc. and get much of my groceries 75%-90% discounted by doing that and also signing up for the store card for discounts if your store has that offer.
Combining your list with coupons, rebates, discounts is a great savings. I am always looking for something new to try. There are some items that have a TMF try me free. If it's marked on the package the form is attached. Try going to the store if possible prior to shopping to get ideas. There are things such as Lloyd's BBQ that is frozen but is ready in minutes.
Let me know what else you would like to know. I would love to help.

Last edited by LILA; 07-03-2004 at 06:43 PM.
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Old 07-03-2004, 06:35 PM
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Couponing/Meal planning

First off a price book is a notebook filled with the items that you purchase with a regular store price, normal sale price and super sale price with dates so you can track how often a good sale is so you know how much to stock up on until the next sale. For example Cottenelle towlet paper is regularly on sale 2/$11.00 for a 2-12 double roll pack so when it is cheaper than $.4583 per double roll I stock up while using a coupon to save my budget even more. A price book will also let you track if an item is cheaper to make yourself than buying pre-made even on sale with coupons such as flavored rice or noodle boxes and cake/brownie mixes.

Coupon catagory organizing will be based on how you shop for example you can lump fruits/vegitables in one catagory or you can catagorize them into canned food or frozen food. I use the free return envelopes you get in the mail and mark each catagory on the envelope and hold them together with a rubber band. You can use a shoe box with dividers in it to break up the catagories or you can buy one of the organizers and label how you will best find a coupon. Some catagories might be Baby, Pets, Meat, Fruits/Veg, Paper/Plastic, Misc., Sauces, Grains/Cereal, etc.

To keep up with the expired ones go through them once a month say in the third week and pull out the ones that will expire at the end or first of the month a put them in a separate envevlope so you can try to use them before they expire if there is a sale going on.

For menu planning I find it easier to plan a beef night, pork night, pasta night, chicken night, Italian night, Mexican night, salad/soup & sandwich night, cassarole night, leftover night, etc. So you can shop the sales and fit meat sales into the schedule. Instead of having a beef roast on the schedule and paying full price for it when you could buy hamburger on sale. You can even shop for the next week or two and freeze the meat when there is a good sale. A roast (beef, pork, whole chicken) can give you enough meat for several meals so you might want to freeze either raw or cooked to use over the next week or two as a roast, stew or soup, meat & noodle meal, shredded sandwiches, etc..
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Old 07-04-2004, 07:46 AM
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I was lucky growing up...I had to have a nutritionist (not going into the story)...but anyhows... I would have to help my mom make a menu for a week or two...and it would have to be something i would eat...I agree w/Roberta it's easier to have a meat night...and so on and so forth...I'd make a menu to last for two weeks...So no suprise visits to the store...I even keep reciepts around to guesstimate how much everything well cost...Oh and write down a budget also...Like how much you want to spend on groceries...Right now we have about 300 monthly budgeted...Then I go through the menu and on a peice of paper write down exactly what I need...That way when you go to the store you don't get anything that is not on your paper...Get out the coupons that corospond w/what you wrote...

Menu planning isn't all that hard if you know what everyone likes...I even put the menu on the refrigerator to remind my DF what we are having that night for dinner...Even ask your DH what he would like for a couple of nights for dinner...And if you have kids ask them too...It's a lil easier if everyone pitches in so you don't have to sit around racking your brain for ideas...Hopefully all of this made sense...

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Old 07-04-2004, 08:03 AM
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As far as meal planning, sit down with your family and decide on meals for a week. Take one day making everyone help and freeze in tv dinner trays or microwavable containers. When you need the meals no need to thaw.
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Old 07-04-2004, 10:18 AM
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i have no input really, but autummom has a great coupon trading thing. i get all kinds of coupons from her that is good and helps me save money.

have a good day
See how I live on less than $20000 a year!
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Old 07-04-2004, 03:56 PM
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I don't use a price book, but I do save my receipts when I go shopping. I don't use coupons anymore, either, as I buy just about everything either in a store brand or offbrand. One way to save money at the store is to shop at the cheapest stores you can...I'm blessed with a Food Depot(cost +10%)and an Aldi's very close to me. They both send out sale papers that just show up in my mailbox, so I can keep an eye on what's on sale.

There's only two of us, and Dearly cooks dinner almost as often as I do, so I can't really make a menu plan for us, as I never know what he's going to feel like cooking. I've tried the menu plans, posted them on the fridge, but he just does NOT see them, lol. So, what I do instead, is quite simple, and keeps me up-to-date on what's available in the fridge. As soon as I get home from the grocery store, and Dearly puts the stuff away(he spoils me, lol...I do NOT have a problem with this!!!!), I make a list of what's in the fridge/freezer/pantry, and how many meals I expect to get from each. For instance...ground beef...4; canned salmon...2; tuna...4, and so on and so forth. As we cook each meal, I change the expected number. Works for us.

The only way to cut out junk food is what Lila said: don't keep it in the house. Period. Voice of experience here, lol...I'm a junk food junkie. Fruits are good...canned, frozen, or fresh. Peanut butter is excellent...make peanut butter cookies...or oatmeal cookies...there's a tad more nutrional value in those than in chocolate. Nothing wrong with tuna salad or egg salad sandwiches for snacks, either, I don't think. Popcorn is good, too.

Menu planning isn't all that hard, really. Try to plan a main dish, a vegetable dish, and a bread. Ok, change main dish to a protein dish...and not just meats, either...dried beans, eggs, and cheese are good sources of proteins. Then your side dish and your bread. You can do it, you really can!

"If your life seems to be all tangled up, stop struggling...sit still...God will untie the knots." __author unknown
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Old 07-04-2004, 08:12 PM
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Now I am not very good with coupons so I am learning lots here. In fact almost the only way I even use coupons is if the item has a peelable coupon or one of those coupon dispensers is attached to the shelf!! Awful I know! lol
But what I am pretty good at is making a menu. I ask my family what they want to eat for the next two weeks and put that down and then hit the cookbook. I have 2 cookbooks by Mr Food and they are filled with great easy main dishes. I usually try 2-3 new recipies a pay period. Now instead of locking in Spaggetti for a particular night I just make a list of 15 dinner meals and what page to find the recipie and post it on my fridge. That way when it is dinner time I can look on the list and figure out dinner pretty quickly. I make most of my grocery list from that menu. I do not do lunch a breakfast menus at all. Mostly lunch ends up as a sandwich and some chips, soup or Ramen noodles (those I don't think we could live without!) Breakfast is usually cereal but I do make sure we have eggs and bacon or sausage for the weekend. I am excited about learning some of your tricks!
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Old 07-05-2004, 06:11 AM
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Couponing and planning

Everyone here has given such wonderful ideas. Here's mine. We tend to get bored with the same old...BUT everyone has their favorites also. I try to fix the favorite meals at least once a month. That way they each get to feel special. I love to cook and experiment too so I go through at least 3 cookbooks a month ( i collect them like most women collect underwear! lol) and plan at least 3 new dishes every month. When we try out a new dish, I have them rate it giving up yo 5 stars according to how much or little they liked it. I keep a spiral notebook of the name, stars received and where it (the recipe) can be found. These new recipes will then be added to my monthly menu. I only keep up with those receiving 4 or 5 stars so I don't get overwhelmed with too many. Also, in the cookbook, I mark it with the number of stars it rated so when researching new ideas I don;t forget that it has already been tried.
Lila had some most amazing ideas. DO you think she would be willing to share ALL her wonderful ideas with us? I never shy away from learning how to do things faster and easier. Help us out Lila. PLease!
Good luck. Won't you please let us know how this turns out for you? I certainly hope these ideas give you at least a good starting point. We are fortunate to belong to such a wonderful group of women that don't mind sharing their thoughts and ideas! Thanks everyone!
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