18 answers

Meal Planning and Shopping with Coupons

I really want to be organized to use coupons. I work full- time, not meal planning more then 2-3 days in advance and I just need some advise. I feel like I end up spending more money then we need to with my multiple trips to the store to get that one or two ingredients that I do not have on hand. Is coupons the way to go? Maybe better meal planning managment?

Would love to hear what works and doesn't work for you all when it come to organization, meal planing and using coupons.

3 moms found this helpful

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So What Happened?™

Thank you that responded. Although I would like to be the "coupon" person and I think I can be at a smaller scale. Your suggestions for meal planning, shopping suggestions and helpful web-site's has been inspiring! I think first and foremost it's about good planning, Thank you for the idea!!

Featured Answers

I just started using www.plantoeat.com and so far I love it. You can plan 3 meals plus snacks every day, it stores my recipes for me, and it creates a shopping list based off of my meals planned. I do my main shopping every two weeks (plan 2 weeks at a time) so I can match up to the ads and print coupons (hotcouponworld).

3 moms found this helpful

More Answers

I'm not a coupon guru and I wouldn't say I'm highly organized but this is what has worked for me. I do one weekly trip to the store.
I wrote each of my meals that I make on an index card and listed every ingredient needed (even if it's simple like "hamburgers, buns, french fries, ketchup, lettuce, pickles)

Every week I pick about 4 or 5 cards and look what ingredients I already have on hand & write the ones I need to buy on my list. Dinners are covered for the week including maybe a day of leftovers and a pizza delivery. Then I add our school/work lunch items for the week and cereal, bread, milk, butter, juice, dog food & treats, etc that I basically buy every week.

I hate making special trips and stops. I cut coupons only for what I normally buy. I do find it keeps me focused. I hate feeling like I'm going through the store grabbing random stuff & putting into my cart.

4 moms found this helpful

There's a service called "Saving Dinner" Once a week you get emailed 7 easy recipes and a grocery list with everything you need to get on it. To that list we just added our breakfast stuff and had leftovers for lunch. You can get the regular version, the low carb version, etc. My husband and I used it for a year till we got the hang of it ourselves. Saved me a ton of time and trips to the store, plus less wasted food.

3 moms found this helpful

I just started using www.plantoeat.com and so far I love it. You can plan 3 meals plus snacks every day, it stores my recipes for me, and it creates a shopping list based off of my meals planned. I do my main shopping every two weeks (plan 2 weeks at a time) so I can match up to the ads and print coupons (hotcouponworld).

3 moms found this helpful

I am a full time working mom will 2 little ones under the age of 5. Seemed like I was spending way too much on food, too. Here's what someone recommended I do. Go to www.jillcataldo.com. She is an amazing super-couponing guru who will tell you all the basics. I just started doing this about 5 months ago and have a packed pantry of things I use all the time like pasta, spag. sauce, condiments, cereal, fruit snack- never paying more than $1 and usually paying less than .50! She matches up coupons and weekly sales if you don't mind hitting a couple of stores in a week. Sounds like you are going to the store a few times a week, anyway. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

We plan the entire week out and make one trip to the grocery store (rarely mid-week trip for milk or something unexpected).

Here's what I started doing... I put all of my favorite week-day recipes into a photo album so that I could flip through them easily. On Saturday afternoon, I flip through and pull 5 meal cards. My husband takes a look and if he's good with our menu, the grocery list is made from there. The "menu" is then put on the fridge for the week- reminds us all of what we are having and what needs to get started by the first person home.

I also keep an active grocery list on the fridge. As we are running low or run-out, it gets added. That way we're not poking through the fridge and pantry each week to see what we need!

2 moms found this helpful

Here's what I do & it has helped immensely with our food budget:

Once a week I sit down & go through all the local grocery store advertisements. I also have the glorious option of shopping at the Commissary here in Dover so that makes a huge difference. I base our weekly meals on what type of meat is on sale.

I generally will go to the Commissary, then maybe stop at 1 or 2 other grocery stores if they have something specific on a fabulous sale. I buy a lot of canned goods & make sure I have all of the staples I'm going to need (butter, sugar, flour, vegetable oil, toilet paper, clothes detergent, etc.).

We are a family of 4 and I have been spending an average of $140 every 2 weeks but then I don't need a single thing on the in between week except maybe milk or something simple like that. I separate all the meat into freezer bags when I get home from the big shopping trip which does take about 20 minutes or so, but once it's done I don't have to think about it again.

This way I don't have to feel like, "Ok, meatloaf on Monday, grilled chicken on tuesday" etc., because I have tons of stuff to pick from! Each morning I pull one kind of meat out of the freezer & toss it in the fridge to defrost before I leave the house & then just go through my mental pantry list to decide what to make that night!

2 moms found this helpful

I think two important parts of being able to create a meal are:

1/ having a pantry with the basic staples on hand that are used frequently by your family.

Think about the basics like baking soda, baking powder, flour, butter, herbs and spices, canned foods like tomatoes and beans. Some ingredients like baking powder can be difficult to substitute. Evaluate what kinds of foods your family enjoys (baked goods, Mexican, Italian, comfort foods, spicy or mild, soups, etc) and then consider what fundamental ingredients are the ones you use often. Stock those fundamental ingredients, in various ways. For example, if you find yourself frequently using milk in recipes, consider keeping dry milk or canned evaporated milk on hand, which can be substituted for fresh milk, and you won't run out. Find a way to organize your kitchen so that you know where your baking supplies are, the canned goods, the spices, and the dry goods like rice, pasta, oats, flour and sugar. Ask yourself what you have run out of recently. Is there a way to stock those ingredients in a different form?

2/ Being flexible.

So you don't have an ingredient. Instead of running to the store, is there a substitute? It can be an established substitute, or it can just be something you see in your kitchen. No potatoes? No problem. Do you have rice? Or bread you can toast? Or a box of pasta? Or what happens if the recipe calls for potatoes and there's not a single starch or carb in your house that night. Ok. Is there another vegetable? Be bold. Don't make yourself a hostage to a recipe. Learn a few basic swaps. If you don't have a can of cream soup, make a quick roux with oil or butter and flour (equal parts), and then stir in milk. Cook it till it's thickened, and season with salt and pepper. 10 minutes. You have soup. Or if you're making a recipe and don't have an ingredient at all, just leave it out. You can type what food you have into google and recipes will come up when you hit "search". Or there's a website called LoveFoodHateWaste where you can enter the foods you have and it will help you come up with something.

That's what works for me.

2 moms found this helpful

Check out the website: www.southernsavers.com. It has some tutorial videos on it that are wonderful for learning the ropes of couponing and organizing yourself. I'm not sure what grocery stores you have in your area, but she even does a list for Walmart with what coupons to use with the sales.

My tips:
•Get a file box, save all your Sunday coupons and file them in there with by dates.
•Get a small check file to place your clipped coupons in to go shopping. (That works for me as I didn't want to haul around a big coupon binder everytime I go grocery shopping.)
•Only by what is on sale, and buy it in bulk with your coupons. Never pay full price for anything!

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

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