Frankie and I have had very few fights during the course of our relationship. I can probably count on one hand the “big ones” during our last 12 years. We can bicker and battle for days over what to have for dinner though. It seems simple enough, right? Picking something for dinner for our family of four should be easy breezy (or as Amelia says, “easy squeezy”) But it’s the only thing that can get us both heated and ready to battle for some reason! The funny part is that we aren’t even fighting for what we want to eat, we are fighting because neither of us want to figure out what ingredients we have on hand and make a decision on the menu!
So in an attempt to end those headaches that always begin with, “Honey, what do you want for supper?” we came up with a weekly meal planning routine and let me tell you, it’s saving us time, money, and lots of headaches!
1. Coupon Clipping
First, we do a weekly coupon sweep on Sunday mornings. We grab the Sunday newspaper (or newspapers depending on how good the coupon lineup is that week) and clip any of our regular products and high value/best price coupons. This usually takes us about 30 to 45 minutes. We use websites like Sunday Paper Coupons and Moms Need To Know to get an idea ahead of time of which coupons will be in our newspapers. Coupons play a part in what we plan for our menu but we aren’t coupon crazy and if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. Once our coupons are clipped we sort them by category and start our menu planning for the week.
We keep all of our current, to-be-used coupons in our meal planning ARC notebook – along with our menu plan, grocery list, inventory lists and rewards cards.
2. Flyer Pricing and Matchups
After we have clipped all the coupons, we sort through the weekly circulars from our local stores. We look for good sales and items that we can price match. We normally do our grocery shopping at Wal-Mart so we are able to use competitors coupons and price match items from other local stores. This saves us a ton of time since we can get those great deals without having to run around to multiple stores.
3. Menu Planning
We use this weekly menu plan printable that I created to plan out our meals for the upcoming week. Some people only plan lunch and dinner, some people only plan dinner but we like to plan all three meals so we can shop more efficiently and save time in our daily routine.
Normally Frankie will have a few recipes or inspirations that he wants to try out so we start by filling in any new recipes first. Then we back go back through the week and figure out what recipes will best fit with the activities that we have happening that day. I always have my day planner handy when we are figuring out the meals, just in case we have to adjust our plan according to what’s on the agenda that day.
4. Grocery List
Now that we have our menu plan hashed out we can start working on our grocery list. We use the pantry inventory list here and do a walk through of the kitchen as we make our list. We try to stick to only items that are needed for our menu, items we’ve clipped coupons for that are at a “stock up” price, sale items from the store flyers and any staples that we are low on, like milk, bread, fruit, etc. I usually try to color code my list so that I can walk through the store, aisle by aisle and not miss anything on the list. Unfortunately our store is being renovated so I haven’t been able to color code our list the last few months so I look like a crazy person in the store making sure I’m not missing anything as I walk each aisle!
So that is our weekly menu planning system. We try to have it all completed (coupon clipping, list making and shopping) within a few hours on Sunday afternoons. Sometimes it doesn’t work out that way and we do our shopping early Monday morning, but for the most part we are able to start each week with a complete menu and stock kitchen – which really saves our sanity!
We’d love to hear about your weekly meal planning routine! Share in the comments how your family plans their menus, your favorite website for recipes or how you plan to use our free weekly menu plan printables!
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