Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Grocery Buying Thought #2: Make a Plan

Grocery Buying Plan
Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;
D&C 88: 119

It took me a while to warm up to the idea of writing a menu for our family's meals. It just didn't fit my personality to be that organized. Besides, I was busy and I figured I wouldn't always have time to cook what was on the menu anyway. I never really bought expensive food. I watched for sale prices and stocked up on good deals. I regularly bought fruits, vegetables, and other healthy items.

Things worked alright, but there were a few problems with my grocery-buying strategy. First, our diet was relatively boring. Since I had no real plans for what to cook, I would usually cook what was easiest, like frozen pizza, microwaved potatoes, or spaghetti. And there was a lot of repetition. Second, I had to do more grocery runs, because I hadn't realized I would need marjoram, cream cheese, or whatever else that week. Third, I wasted more food. I bought items that sounded good or were on sale, but often I never got around to using them.

I am still not as organized as I could be. My mother-in-law plans two meals for each day of the coming week. One woman I know writes out a dinner menu for the entire month. Both these systems are great, but you can get a lot of the same benefits by making a simpler plan (and this is the only way I have been able to make it work for me.

On a good week, here is what I do. Quickly, I check out what I have in my cupboard and fridge. I figure out what supplies I already have and, more importantly, which foods I need to use up soon. Next, I look at the weekly ads. What is on a good sale that I can use? With all of that information in mind, I write out a list of five or six things I want to cook that week. Then I write a grocery list with the things I need to buy, including items for each recipe. When I am preparing to make dinner each day, I choose something from the list and make it. I save money by wasting less, cooking what is on sale, and making fewer trips to the grocery store.

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