Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Saving Money on Meals

awhile ago i taught a class on couponing and planning meals. i am no expert, but i thought i would share with you the handout that i did. (i would have done it sooner, but i just figured out how to copy and paste, i know i am slow) anyway if you would like me to give you some more information just let me know. this was just the handout, so there is not a lot of detail so just let me know if i need to explain more.
Saving Money on Meals
*Where to get coupons: online (pinchingyourpennies gives you links), newspaper, All You magazine, in ad coupons, blinkies, stick ons, catalinas, misc: magazines, American profile, etc.
*How to organize them:
1- Cut them out and put into a 3 ring binder divided into categories
2-Place inserts in a file by the date

*General Information
-You can combine an in store coupon with a manufactured coupon
-Look for double coupons (Albertsons and K-Mart)
-Don’t use a coupon just because it is going to expire, use it when an item is on sale and you’ll get your best savings

Menu Planning:
*This is probably going to be your best money and time saver and stress reducer
*I usually designate a day to plan my menu (usually while my little one is sleeping to save my sanity)
1. I start by going to and write down a list of what I am going to buy. Pinching your pennies does all of the work for you by indicating what is on sale, links and references to coupons. It is an AMAZING site, take advantage of it!!

2. I make a list of what is going to expire in my fridge and in my pantry.(now I have a list of ingredients based on what I already have and what is on sale for the week) (make sure you use what you have!!)

3. Now I go through my recipes and pick out recipes based on my “ingredient” list. I also use a meal outline for each day here is mine:
Mon: Food storage meal, Tues: crockpot meal, Wed: leftover or freezer meal, Thurs: new recipe, Fri: out to eat or nice meal, Sat: Childs choice (have your child help out), Sun: breakfast or freezer meal. It’s also a good idea to pull out your calendar to mark in when you are going to have a potluck, etc. You can also go to and do an ingredient search to find recipes based on your “ingredient” list.

4. Once I have found my recipes I gather them or mark them and put them in a folder with my menu plan.

5. I look through each recipe and write down a list of what I need to buy to complete my meals and essentials such as milk, bread, etc.

6. Lastly I mark which recipes I can double and freeze and make sure I have the containers and items to freeze them in.

*I also like to write down what we are going to have for breakfast, lunch and snacks.
*If you don’t use a meal save it for next week or use it on your leftover/freezer meal night

Storing and using your food:
*Stock up on good deals for your food storage (I store mine downstairs in a cool, dry place) (Organize it so you can see what you have and rotate it)
*Organize your fridge: it’s easy to see, easy to get and easy to clean
I organize my fridge into these categories: snacks, meats and cheeses, leftovers, dinner prep, and misc.
*Designate a category in your recipe book for “Don’t feel like cooking nights” these should be recipes that contain items you normally have on hand, quick and easy. You can also always pull out a freezer meal for nights like these but I recommend that you thaw or partially thaw your meal before baking it
*Type or file new recipes that you have tried and like (I have a day designated to do this)
*I like to do a lunch time dinner prep. I usually have more time at lunch time than at dinner time so I do all the prep I can so that putting dinner together is quick. I also look ahead and do any prep you can for meals i.e. chop vegetables, cook extra rice or noodles.
*I like to have baskets one in the fridge and one in my pantry for dinner prep roundup. (basically you gather all your ingredients for your meal the night before into the baskets)

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