Thursday, January 24, 2013

Grocery/cooking overhaul

Ok, friends of mine who read this (are you out there?) I have a question.

I am re-looking and overhauling how I handle cooking, menu planning, and grocery shopping. I want to have a dinner planned for every night (or at least almost every night) and we have a very limited budget. There are endless places to look online with endless tips, tricks, menus, shopping lists and recipes. As you probably know, it's kind of overwhelming. But I want to ask people who live like I do, shop where I shop, and who I know.

How do you plan, shop for, and prepare all the food you need for your household on your budget? Do you have a budget? Do you meal plan?

If you can share any of your ideas, your story, or even a sample plan, that would be awesome!

I just need some help and I'll take any I can get.

I'm kind of nervous about posting this question because I'm afraid I won't get any answers. Please don't read this and leave. Share your ideas and it'll be helpful not only to me but to others who read it.

Don't be shy!!!

Thanks in advance :)


  1. Although I'm not a major coupon junkie, I do clip the ones I find that I think could be useful. I shop weekly, but always, before I go, I plan out my meals for the week, trying to use any coupons that I have. This not only helps me create a list (and be more likely to stick to it) helps me have meals all planned!
    P.S. Wal-Mart price matches most anything so if there is a really good deal at a different store, I'll just take the ads to Wal-Mart so I don't have to run all over town just to get the groceries I need for the week. Good luck!

  2. I do meal planning, but I don't assign a meal to a specific night. I go through my recipes and creat a shopping list from the recipe and a list of 6 or so meals. I post the list of meals in the kitchen and know that I can fix any meal listed due to the fact I bought everything on the shopping list. When I am in the store purchasing from the shopping list, if a "staple item" is on sale, I buy a few extra. (Ex. spaghetti sauce - it's my emergency meal) Plus I always plan on at least one leftover night. Hopefully this makes sense. I personally shop at Kroger and earn discounts on gas for the car, plus it's the most convenient store to my house.

  3. I'm not the most organized, but I do try to use coupons when I can find them or remember them. I mostly shop at Kroger also. While their normal prices might not be as cheap as Walmart, I get the stuff on sale and I find that I spend WAY less there than anywhere else. And if you have one of their cards, you can load coupons onto it and it automatically takes them off when you check out plus you earn gas points and you get coupons in the mail from Kroger that depend upon your prior purchases. I do not make a meal plan for the week because I'm not that organized and I just sort of think of things I can make with what is on sale. I also find that if you buy chicken or hamburger on sale in bulk, it's really nice to cook it up and put it in bags in the freezer and then you can pull it out and use it when needed for a quick dish. I also make large portions of things and we have leftovers a lot. If a pork loin is on sale, we grill it during the summer and then have it for lunches and dinner during the week. I make a lot of things that we can also take and reheat for lunch at our workplaces. Obviously if there is something special I want to make, I do make a list but at least for us, I just use what I find on sale to make something because I normally keep the necessary "filler" items stocked, such as cream of chicken soup, rice, pasta, etc. If I planned for the week, I probably wouldn't feel like whatever I had planned for that evening. :) If you like fish, the frozen talapia in Kroger at the back has really good sales so when it is on sale, I buy it, stick it in the freezer and then I will have it for sometime when I don't know what to make. Make a little quinoa, bake the fish with cajun seasoning and lemon and put the fish on the quinoa. It's a cheap meal. They also have their chicken tenderloins on sale a lot so that is what I use to cook for later recipes. I also sometimes see recipes on pinterest and I write down what I would need for those recipes. If most of the things I need are on sale, I get them; if not, I wait until they are. As we get older, we get pickier, however and spend more on certain items. We only buy Boars Head lunch meat at Baeslers which is way more expensive than anywhere else (but better for you), but we've earned that right, right?

  4. Hey Girl,

    This is going to be long, sorry! Hope it helps though. It was a major help and saved me and Anson so many fights and money! It was a very freeing thing for both of us and takes the guess work out of dinners and budgets.
    I do meal plan. I haven't kept up as good since a few months before Heath was born but I try and do everything, Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. It helps with the kids! I get the Sunday and Thursday paper(the paper runs a promo for about 6months for.99 a paper. I get it till that runs out and then cancel it. I wait for it to return again and start it back up.)I pull all the adds out of the stores that go to and look at what is on sale. I hate going to our Walmart and avoid it like the plague so I don't price compare. My normal three stores are Target, Aldi, and Commissary. I use the commissary mostly for meat and sometimes I use Kroger. They have great sales and there meat it good quality. I sit down and try to make a list off of what is on sale. Make sure you go through your freezer,fridge, and pantry first so you don't over buy. I do for every two weeks because that is how Anson gets paid. I try to do 9-10 meals. That normally works for two weeks. We will have left overs a few times and that also allows for two meals out (once a week is what we try to do) I also do the coupon thing but only on what I need. I use to clip everything that we use and would buy it just because I had the coupon but I wasted a lot of money that way. I will still use some when there is an awesome sale and with a coupon on top. Don't pass up the really good ones. I always use the diaper ones and Tide. (you know us we are dirty people and Tide works the best for us :))Target has a lot of store coupons so I double up when I can. They also run adds for you buy two of these and get a $5 gift card. (Sorry you don't have one close :() I buy mostly toiletries and household stuff there and then I go to Aldi. I get everything that I can there! Then I go to the Commissary or Kroger and get my meat. I try to spend a certain% of our money at each store. We have gone to all cash, it keeps me from over spending!!!!! Let me use a made up budget and show you how I do it.

  5. Ok so say I have a $150 for two weeks. This is how I would break it down for each store:

    $40 for Toiletries/ Household goods. (Target for me)
    $50 for Groceries (aldi)
    $20 for Meat (commissary)
    $40 for "milk runs" ( this is for the other two weeks when we run out of something small like milk,eggs or bread)
    If I know that I am going to only spend around $30 on toiletries and there is a good sale on meat I will use the extra $10 to buy extra and stock up so that will cut say chicken off my grocery list for the next time. There is a small handful of things that I don't like or can't get food wise form Aldi that I will look at the adds first and get from Target or another store. I know you said you liked Save A Lot. Use that as much as you can. I wish I had started using Aldi a long time ago. It saves us so much money!!!!!! Stick to your list don't get extras unless you know for a fact you have the money. Sometimes I will add the total on my phone while I shop because I know I will have a little extra $ for that category and have coupons for things I know I will need or use. It has gotten easier and I have it down to almost $5 of what I will spend at each store now. That makes it really easy to shop now. It took a long time to get there though. The cash budget only thing has really helped like a ton! I can't stress that enough! Sorry it was really long but I love sharing how I do shopping. It really allows me to stay home with the kids!
    Love you!
    P.S. I also use They let you print two of every coupon off one computer and as long as you buy one product for every coupon most stores let you use as many as you want in one transaction. If you have a store coupon you can double that up with a Manufacture coupon as well. (sorry, didn't know if you knew that. I didn't when I first started using coupons.)