But you have no idea what to do with any of it. Seems to make that whole grocery trip useless, doesn’t it?
The main focus behind this series is to be prepared. Chaos will [eventually] ensue, so you must plan ahead and be smarter than the nonsense that will happen during the day. I have finally put my process into a few steps.
1. Browse the ads
In my area, our main go-to places include: Publix, Winn-Dixie, Target and Walmart. I choose to shop at Walmart because overall, their prices are much cheaper than Publix, Winn-Dixie and Target. Walmart also MATCHES ADS. I’ve had some bad experience with this.. they don’t seem to train all of their cashiers on their policies and sometimes it’s a fight. But they do match competitor ads, we’re talking the BOGOs and the 10 for $10 ads. Some Walmarts have posted new signs lately about their ad match policies, but not all. For more details about Walmart’s coupon policies, click here. More details to come about coupon policies later in the series.
I tend to browse the ads to see what’s on sale before I make my list. If you’re trying to maintain a budget, look for those items that you would normally buy that might be on sale. Don’t go buy anything special just because it’s on sale, you’ll end up spending more.. defeating the purpose.
2. Browse your own cookbook
When you’re picking your brain for dinner ideas, refer to your own cook book for tried & true favorites. If you don’t have your own or a collection of favorite recipes, check out my blog post on creating your own recipe book here.
3. Browse Pinterest and check your own boards
I’m guilty of overpinning on Pinterest. I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I need some sort of schedule in order to keep finding new things, but actually get around to trying some of what I’ve pinned also.
By giving yourself a meal planning schedule, your give yourself the opportunity to be organized and not pressured to do everything in one evening. Been there, done that – 3 hours of searching the ads, browsing Pinterest for meal ideas, and searching for corresponding coupons.. can make you see stars. This is what works for me, I have a couple days to go crazy on Pinterest and decided to reel myself in the rest of the time so that I can actually make some of the things that I’ve planned (same concept for DIY crafts too).
4. Make a list of meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and [yes] snacks
Another issue with trying to fill your pantry to fill your belly and not eat out is that meddlesome urge to open the fridge and stare into it and that nonsense phrase: “there’s nothing to eat.” If there are quick options or something already prepped, that phrase is never uttered. While I make my grocery list of items to put in my cart, I make a separate list of meals that I can make with things that are already in my pantry and the items I’ll put in my cart. I try to leave no option unwritten. When it’s busy or it’s a messy day, you don’t want to have to figure it out anyway, it’s easier if you can grab & go.
5. Take inventory
Evaluate what you already have vs. what you need. Add what you need to complete your chosen meals from your previous meal planning session to your list to eliminate extra trips back to the store for forgotten items, wasting gas and time & luring you into impulse purchase territory.
What does your process look like?
Part 3 to come soon!