I menu plan and check out the sales at local markets all week long.  Wednesdays and Thursdays are the new sales days here, so I plan around that.

I thought about what makes me different from others who also love good food.  I recalled things people have said to me regarding my culinary explorations.  It comes down to my ability to feed my family good quality food at bargain prices by planning my menu around what it on sale.    Ensuring that leftovers don’t go to waste by freezing and/or utilizing them is another method for cutting food costs.  My menu plans and shopping lists are fluid, changing daily with my mood, and based on what is on clearance at the store.  I love those racks of stuff they are getting rid of, and the meats marked down on their last day!

I saw Rachel Ray speak about her menu planning, and she utilizes her own version of this method.  The difference is, she doesn’t have to focus on the cost of cooking what family members ask for, she has an unlimited budget.  My food budget varies from week to week, but averages around $150.00 per week to feed 6-8 adults dinner each night, while keeping leftovers or sandwich fixings around for daytime eating.  Oatmeal and cereal for breakfast most days.  Some yogurt, family breakfast on Sunday.

I have food on hand dinners for the next few days, but as of Friday, I will need more food.  The cupboard is nearly bare as far as my usual staples, i.e., canned beans, frozen seasoning veggies and side dish ingredients, frozen leftovers ready for future use.  So this week has the potential to be one that runs a little higher than usual.  I find it so rewarding to buy at the right price and food prepare items ahead to make meals quicker to fix.   Cooked meatballs, cooked and crumbled ground meat and sausage, and cooked (and then shredded) chicken in the freezer help make weeknight meals so much easier!

 

I always buy condiments and grains when I see them on clearance or for an exceptional price.  For instance, I have Lea and Perrins White Wine and Herb Chicken Marinade on hand for a future meal that I bought from the clearance rack for 2/3.49.  The regular price is $2.88 at another store on sale, so it was still a good price.  I also have some S & F Lemon Pepper Chef Sauce that was on sale.  I will definitely be on the lookout for some chicken on sale, since I freeze the chicken pieces in the marinade and defrost it the night before I’m cooking it.  We are a little spoiled in our family, though, and usually opt for boneless chicken.  Less flavor, no homemade broth, higher per pound price, but still first choice most of the time (unless I’m feeling poor, or their giving chicken with bones away).

At least once a week, I make a meal in the crockpot that requires little or no effort on the part of those eating it!  Chili.  Stew.  Chowder.  This usually falls on Wednesday night, when I shop at a new local market called Lucky’s where they have “sip and stroll” and I have to say the level of aggression among fellow shoppers is measurably lower since we are all sipping wine or beer.  People actually smile and sometimes even speak to each other!  It’s a bit of a novel experience nowadays to shop within such a nice vibe.  Their sales are amazing, too, and since Wednesdays you can shop the previous week’s sale or the coming week’s sale, I am presented with more options.  I also find Aldi to be a good choice for my Wednesday night shopping. I keep an eye out for when they have ground turkey on sale, or when I’m bringing food to a gathering and my ingredients are not on sale a the Lucky’s, Aldi, or on the weekly BOGO sale.  Staples such as baking needs, butter, sandwich fixings, breads, produce, and pastas and grains, not to mention canned goods and foil and the like, are all super reasonable at Aldi.  Lucky’s has an app where I can get additional discounts, and tonight I saved $11.00 off my $85.00 bill.  All the items were already on sale, and the discounts were on top of the sale, like coupons.

My daughter also turned me on to Ibotta app, and I’m hooked.  It’s like after-the-fact couponing.  Over the last six months, buying only items I would have bought anyhow, I’ve earned nearly $200.00 which is paid into my bank account using Paypal.  Sometimes when I forget to check what deals are available on Ibotta, I will check when I get home.    Referring friends gets you extra money.  Making your own “team” also gets you extra money.  I enjoy it.  I even got a discount recently shopping at Best Buy and on Groupon!

I find that I enjoy cooking more and we waste less food!  A win, win.

Happy bargain hunting and menu planning!

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