This idea is because I have to teach a class on Meal Planning at Enrichment next month. This idea comes from Apron Girls:
I have been meaning to post this FOREVER!!! I just have been out and about and on vacation--and I just realized I hadn't done anything with this. So, apologies go out to you all...this is in response to the request for a way to cut down on grocery budget, plan meals effectively and frugaly.
What is it? 3 1/2 business card holders taped together at the top and bottom. All you do is write your main dish on the blank business card, and on the BACK you write ONLY the ingredients you need for that dish. Mine looks worse for wear right now, and I have a set of new card holders waiting for me when I get back...plus a million new recipes to add to cards.
I LOVE this method--you can essentially plan your month out based on items you ALREADY have, but rearrange the meals according to the sales at your grocery store. This way, you also are eating 28 different meals each month! So, you could start your month just putting in the meals you want to eat, and when you see chicken go on sale, put a chicken dish or 2 that week to take advantage of the sale...I am sure you get the idea. Also, a really effective way to shop is to go on Tuesday night. That way you can compare the sales from one week with the ones from the next because the new ads come OUT Tuesday and start on Wednesday...SO all of you living in the boondocks can still save money too!! (that is unless your store doesn't HAVE sales...which would be a cryin' shame!)
I personally like to shop for 2 weeks at a time, at least for non-perishables. Then I fill the rest in with the sales and coupons as the time comes up to eat that meal. Then you KNOW you have what you need, it is easy to get out ahead of time, and you're not sitting there at 4:35 p.m. wondering what on earth you are going to make...
When I make my grocery list, I just do a tally of things as I go...example, cheese...this recipe uses 1 pound, that one uses 2 cups, etc. and then write the total needed. It's pretty easy.
I loved it so much I even did a whole menu for BREAKFAST! We ate SO much better this way--not depending on cereal EVERY day...we still eat it, yes. But it is nice to have warm meals thrown in there.
Sorry for the nastiness of my pics...It wasn't until I took the pics that I realized how dirty it was! Yuck!!
ALSO, Meals ONLY make it to the card holder menu planner when we LOVE THEM. I like to throw a card in every week or so that says "try a new recipe"...but I only make a specific card once it's been family approved. I also put all the recipes that go to the ingredient organizer in a cookbook (mine is a photo album because I loved having my cards protected and seeing through the back side.) So, I don't have to hunt for the recipe instructions come dinner time. They are all in one place. But I still have a stash of cookbooks I love to look through for fun and inspiration... :)