Sunday, January 3, 2010

STEP #3: Making a Menu

Don't skip this step! The only reason it isn't step number one is because you need to get your mind shifted to a new way of thinking about shopping and get your papers coming. THIS is the step that will make sure that you are spending your money wisely and buying the items that you REALLY need. Plus it will really help you organize the storage that you will be accumulating.

Here's the deal: Let's get started with your dinner menu. Sit down and write down some of your favorite family meals. I recommend doing 30 meals. This will cover all of your dinners for a month without repeats. If you would rather do 15 or 20, that is totally fine. Whatever you want to do.

Once you have completed your list, you want to make an ingredient list for each of the meals. Divide your items into a "Perishable" and "Non-Perishable" column. There are plenty of ways to get the Perishable items stored. This will be up to you. You can either buy these items, whether on sale or not, when they are needed, or you can learn the joys of freezing, canning, dehydrating, etc. Please don't let that make your head spin! It is easier than it seems and is entirely up to you! Take it a step at a time. Whatever works for you.

Now decide what kind of storage you want. Most sales and coupons are on a 3-4 month cycle. If you decide that you want to have a 4 month storage, multiply your ingredient list by 4. Right now I am building a year supply. I have to watch the expiration dates when buying. If I buy an item that has a shelf life of one year, great! If it only has a 3 month life, then I will only buy for 3 months at a time. Pretty easy, right?!

How about an easy example:

I have Lasagna on my menu. I plan for a year of storage, so I will multipy everything by 12. Some recipes on your list may have a lot of ingredients. Some things will have much less. Try to balance these things out. Making 30 meal menus with highly involved recipes will be overwhelming. If you have a particular recipe that you love to have once every few months, GREAT! Buy the items for it and throw it in where ever you would like. This is your baby! Make it the way it works for YOU!

Let's break a neak down......

For a 1 year supply I will need:
(12) Large bottles Prego Spagetti Sauce
(12) Pounds ground beef
(12) Boxes of Lasagna Noodles
(9) Pounds Shredded Cheddar Cheese
(9) Pounds Shredded Mozerella Cheese

I would likely make a loaf of bread or pick one up for a dollar at Albertsons. Depending on my time availability. I would also whip up a salad. Obviously, I would buy this fresh OR, depending on the time of year, head out to the garden! EVEN BETTER!

As you make your list it is going to look long and overwhelming. Don't let it intimidate you. As you shop the sales you will see that you can gather these items quickly and for a great price. I just bought my Spagetti Noodles, another favorite on our menu. I got it for about 35 cents a box! For just about $4 I have a year supply of spagetti noodles! 

Now that you have your ingredient list, you are going to want to keep that close to your coupon book, which you will learn about very soon. Watch the sales for the items on your list and save your coupons. When the item goes on sale, swoop in and snag it for a steal! EASY PEASY!

Now, I said before that items on sale seem to be on a 3-4 month cycle. When the item comes back on sale, check your inventory, then purchase to refill. Can you see that overtime your grocery bill will go down even further?! As you live off of your storage, you will begin to shop for fresh food items you need and refilling your storage! PERFECT!

So dinner is taken care of. For lunch and breakfast I generally make a list of favorites. Sandwiches, Spagetti O's, Soups, etc. Cereal, oatmeal, granola bars, etc. Snacks will be much the same. Make a list of all the things you would like to have on hand. Figure, as close as you can, how much you will need and start accumulating!

Again, Please don't let this step overwhelm you! Once you sit down and put some ideas together you will see how easy this can be. Get your family involved. Ask for favorites. If you have kids let them have a night or two a month that they choose and help prepare. Not only will you have a supply that feels comfortable, you will be organized and dinner will never be a mystery! You will always have just what you need on hand!



Gear Gang said...

Ryan and I love your ideas. I am definatly going to put them to use.

You are amazing!!!

cindy said...

Great info! We have been doing this for about 35 years now. It works. Store what you eat, buy things on sale or be a savy comparison shopper. It is great to have a well stocked storage room. Be patient, share good prices with your friends. They will do the same for you! Enjoy. We all eat 3 meals a day 365 days a year, make menu planning, shopping and meal prep. an excellent adventure.


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