Menu Planning and shopping Pt.3/3

Well, I have some fab news!  Lewisville Love blog which launched on February 14, now has over 1,000 page views!  WOOHOO!  Doing the Happy Dance! It's very exciting for me.  I feared no one would visit my little corner of the web, but YOU do; and for that, I truly thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Ok, so back to business.  This is the final post about saving moolah with our groceries.  Organizing your shopping trips is huge when it comes to saving money.  If you missed my overall steps to Organizing your shopping and menu planning, you can go back and catch up.  In part two of this post, I went into detail about knowing your budgets, knowing your prices, and knowing your stores.  These are the first 3 steps to saving money at the store.

Today, I'll talk about steps 4-6 - menus, shopping list, and coupons.  So once again, let the savings saga continue!

4.  Dust off you cookbooks and plan a menu.  Menu planning is essential and it's become big business.  Many people are making money by putting menus together for you.  It's a service you can find all over the web if you're willing to spend a few dollars a week.  Yes, you too can have a personalized menu sent to you complete with grocery list....or you can just do it yourself....for free.  Planning a menu doesn't take long, but it's a crucial step so many of us skip.  Don't skip it; not if you want to save money.  If you have a plan when you walk into the store, you won't be tempted to eat out as much or buy the more expensive pre-packaged food items.  If you have a plan, you won't have to run to the store throughout the week for this or that and end up spending more than you planned- because you know we always end up picking up a few more things when we just need one.  When my menu is planned, the family is well fed with healthy, wholesome food.  I'm not the best cook, but since Iron Chef America has a full cast, I don't worry about it too much.
Here is my hi-tech, fancy menu planner.
  I put my menu and grocery list on one page of my spiral notebook.  I use this notebook for everything, and it goes with me everywhere.  When I'm onto next weeks menu, I simply flip the page.  See how savvy I am!  I use to print out my menu a month at a time and put it up for all (my family) to see, but since I don't have to menu plan a month at a time anymore,  printing out a weekly menu seems a little wasteful to me.  Plus, I always want the right to change my mind. 
If you need a menu and grocery printable to inspire you or help you plan, go to the $5dollar dinner mom here.  She has printables and lots of great recipes for, yes, $5 a meal.  I visit often!

I love menu boards.  I think I'll have to make one soon!

5. From your Menu, make a grocery list.  Lewisville always needs staple items like milk, bread, eggs, cereal, etc. Those get put on the list first, then I run through each day of the menu and add those menu items to my grocery list if I'm out of stock.  I make a separate list for personal toiletries.  Those I usually pick up at Walgreens or Rite-aid.

6.  Gather your coupons and match them up with sales prices.  I learned how to coupon from my friend, Miss Ollie, who put a little seminar together for us newbies about 20 years ago. It was pretty simple then, look at the sales, find a coupon to match the item, go to a store that doubles the amount, and you save money.  Bam! That's it. Today, the logistics are the same but now it's all high tech with coupons going to my iphone and being placed directly onto my store card. There are tons of websites dedicated to helping you find deals and the coupons to match them.  If you've never couponed before and/or don't know how to, let me just say it is nothing, NOTHING like that show Extreme Couponing.  If you are on an extremely tight budget and have to find ways to buy food for a few pennies, you can do it with coupons, but like that show explains, it takes hours each day organizing coupons and lists, then it takes hours in the store.  I love saving money just as much as the next girl, but are you kidding me!  I just can't spend hours of my day finding coupons for deals.  If I had to, I would, and if you're on an extremely tight budget this could be your answer. 
I put the date on my coupon book then put them in a folder
until I go shopping and ready to use them.

For a great tutorial  on how to coupon, visit the Coupon Mom here.  You'll need to sign up, but it's free. She puts up a list of all the sales items in the stores you shop at and then matches up the coupon for you.  I like here system the best because you don't spend time cutting and sorting coupons.  You just cut the coupon you need when you need it- and she tells you when.  Watch her video; she explains it well.
Stock pile from couponing- Good!

                                                   Dumpster Diving for coupons- Bad!

Truthfully, I rarely use coupons today.  I still get a paper (only 1, not 4,10, or 20) delivered with my Sunday coupons, but most coupons are for items I don't buy.  Most coupons are for packaged, unhealthy type foods that I try to stay away from.  I use coupons for our toiletries and a few of our store bought items, but coupons don't determine if an item goes on my list.   Healthy coupons that you can use at Whole Foods can be found here, but I've found Sprouts and Trader Joe's to be a good healthy alternative with out breaking the bank and without coupons.  We don't have a Trader Joe's here yet, but it's coming and I can't wait! 

So that's it.  Organizing your shopping and menu planning is key to being a savvy savings girl.  Hope all this helps you.  Have a great weekend!  I'll be spending my weekend working on some crafts while sipping tea and watching Jane Austin movies.  I love my weekend plans!

                                             Blessings to you,