Orchard Girls

Thursday, May 30, 2013

How to Start Menu Planning

After Adam and I started living together, I quickly discovered that making a menu saved us time and money at the grocery store. It helped me to budget for groceries, eat healthier, and not waste as much food. Over the last couple of years, I've figured out a system that works well for us. So, for Thrifty Thursday this week, I'm going to share my menu making plan with you!

First off, you need a location where you can do all of your planning. I have a binder and tabs to keep me organized. I keep a tab for Menu Making, Old Menus, and Grocery Lists/Receipts.
I like to keep my old menus for several different reasons. They help me learn things about what we eat. It helps me find some of our favorite recurring recipes. It also helps to have pre-made menus handy when I'm not feeling particularly inspired.
And yes, I save my grocery lists and my receipts. This helped me to figure out what our essentials are. It also helped me figure out how much we really spent on food. Another good thing about saving your receipts is that you start to notice the sale cycles at your store. This helped me plan when to buy certain things. When I first started this journey, you better believe I was the girl walking around the store with her graphing calculator.
Anyway, save your receipts and old grocery lists. You may not see why now, but in a few months, you'll start to notice things.
Now onto the actual menu making! Here is a quick list of what I do.

Step 1: Inventory the cabinets, fridge, and freezer. Is there anything that needs to be used? Make a note to incorporate it into a dish. Make a list of the necessities needed (ie. milk, eggs, bread)
Step 2: Decide on some meals. Choose as many that are needed to fill the time period between grocery trips. (We usually do 4 to 5 meals every week. We like eating leftovers and doing random pop-ins at the in-laws!) Sometimes I like to pick recipes I've never tried out of the same cookbook, or pinterest, or another recipe source. This makes me use the cookbooks I have, or pins I've pinned, and helps us find new family favorites! You could also base your meals around something(s) that you know will be on sale.
Step 3: Look up recipes and make a list of things that need to be purchased for the meals. No need to organize the list yet. Just make sure that nothing is missed.
Step 4: Organize the list into categories. This will help you when you're at the store. You won't be running all over the store, going through the same aisle multiple times. Don't forget to add your necessities/essentials to the list, too.
I've made the above categorized grocery list into a FREE PRINTABLE! Print a couple to a page and keep them in your binder!

After grocery shopping, you should have everything you need for your meals! No more running back to the store for forgotten items, or for a last minute dinner!

I can't tell you how much I have learned since I started making weekly and bi-weekly menus. We've cut our food budget down dramatically since when we first started, but I don't think we've sacrificed any of the quality of our food. You just start to learn what works, without a ton of effort.

Hopefully this post finds you all well. Thank you for stopping by and for supporting our blog. We truly appreciate every one of you!


  1. Great how to. I found you via Pinterest and will link to this post to my wahm blog.

    Your newest fan~ Elian

  2. Thank you, Elian! Hope you have a great day.



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