I sat down with an Excel spreadsheet program and made a meal plan/ grocery management form. I have tried to do inventory sheets and they are too time consuming for their worth. I have designated spots on the pantry shelf and can see at a glance when inventory is getting low. Periodically I check dates and rotate the stock so that the oldest gets used first.
The form has two columns, one for things to use up, and one for things needed to fill on to make the meal plans. One of the best ways to manage meat or protein is to buy the so called loss leaders and batch cook. By using a matrix for your meals, you have a variety and can rotate out the loss leaders. Ideally you find one " meat" a week. This week I found several. It just means that I will spend less next couple of weeks. I got hamburger for just under three dollars a pound, it was supposed to be twenty percent, but judging from the fat it gave off, I think it was better than that. I also got two pork tenderloins and a very large pizza. The pork tenderloins have a bit of longevity on them and I put up seven pounds of hamburger and froze all but the meatloaf that we ate last night. Mondays meal is pizza. We cut the pizza in quarters when it comes from the store. ( it's too big to fit in the oven or the fridge. We can top it with everyone's preferences and bake as people get home.
I still have chicken in the freezer so we have a variety of meals.
There are some things that I keep one of in the pantry for a back up. As soon as we use that item out of the pantry I start looking for a sale. I just pulled a ketchup, and found it for .80 at ALBERTSONS. At that cost with summer coming up, I bought two. Usually, unless I find a better sale, I can buy the same brand at the dollar store.
The dollar store has really good cookies. MADE in AMERICA . That come in a tall skinny tin. I bought them because the cookies taste good.( chocolate, right! ) and the tins are good storage for makeup brushes and some things in the craft room. The can is worth a buck.
I have written over a thousand posts all in the hopes of helping people. I will do the basics again, but thought by seeing how the mental process works , some people might get a better picture. All I know is that the process works. It takes a little time. But the operative word is little. I know there are people that find the time to cook all day. I know there are people that find the time to clip coupons for forty hours a week. Most people I know either work outside the home, or are retired and volunteer and babysit grandchildren and have busy lives. While this takes time, it doesn't take a lot of time. Basically, you spend a little more time shopping and preparing for your trip, and less time cooking. Batch cooking saves a lot of time. The up shot of this is that you can put a meal together without a lot of effort, and eat more healthy foods. Also, you never have an empty pantry and are prepared for life as it comes. And the best part os that you can do it for less than themUSDA stats for thrifty. I am still at less than seventy five dollars a week, which is about 15 percent below stats for just my husband and I. We also supplement my daughter and granddaughter. It's easier that way when I'm cooking already.
I posted information I had from a spread sheet I found that was done April 2009. The price differences are remarkable. A few things haven't changed much, I think chicken may be Lowe, but a lot has really gone up. I can still put good meals on the table for a five dollar bill. Obviously, that is not a steak dinner-- but that is good food. It's done with smart shopping, watching for bargains, and incorporating inexpensive sources of protein for some meals.
Just some notes?