Saving Money

As part of my plan is to save money by eating in...I thought you'd like to know how I save.  My goal when shopping/menu planning is to (in no particular order)
a) utilize proteins that I have in the fridge/pantry first (smart thinkin' Lincoln)

b)buy good proteins on super sale (usually the loss-leaders) and throw 'em in the freezer (or use 'em soon!!)  That being said I prefer fresh, however when chicken is 38 cents/lb I'm usually not going to cook it all the same day.

c) match-up coupons and sales to get the biggest bang for my buck.  Usually that means having (and using) my frequent shopper cards.   They track. I save.  Sometimes Big Brother isn't so bad.

How I do this is the following:
a) I keep my coupons un-clipped (for the majority. there are some that I have clipped) in a cheap-o binder

b)  Match-up here (now this is a local lady, but there are tons of these people over the internet)

c) print coupons right before I shop

d) I also visit

     and for those local yokels I always check (mainly because they have free stuff for the kids every month) and I've signed up for their emails and facebook page
     I also check out Hen House, however I'm resigned to shop only at one store/week.  Grocery shopping is a necessary evil; it comes every week with no regards to your readiness.

I try to get loss-leaders for these too. I try to shop at the farmer's market when available, however I wouldn't put too granola of a label on me.  Organic is great for somethings.....other things I could care less.

Overall, I try to get the best quality of ingredients....for the cheapest price.  Not too off the wall. 

Make a great plan:  I try vegetarian night once a week (great for 10 years of marriage....he was meat/potatoes EVERY night...I figure by 25 years maybe we can do two).  It saves on cost and saves on your waistline.

Do you get stuck making mealplans?  Put your 7 main proteins down (in no particular order), and match up with 7 genres of food (some of my genres of food include Italian, Greek, American Fare, soup, vegetarian (as previously discussed), crock pot, brinner (breakfast...for dinner), etc.)

Try to make things as easy as possible.  If you haven't tried a recipe and it looks daunting, please don't try the night when little Johnny has his first soccer game!  If you have your weekly activities in front of you, that makes the process that much easier.

There are absolutely tons of recipes you can do with minimal prep, great results, and not having to use a crock-pot (if you are averse or don't have one).  If you think a la grand dame herself, Sandra Lee, your meals are insto presto.  If, in the morning, you layout your dry goods you are going to use for dinner on the counter, it makes cooking it the next step when you get home from a hard day's work.  Life isn't fun when you feel it collapsing on your shoulders.  Follow your plan that you worked so hard to do.

Defrost your meat 1-2 days beforehand.  I don't work for the USDA, but  I put my frozen proteins in the fridge generally 2 days before a meal.....someone will probably prove me wrong, but we haven't gotten sick (lately-HA!) from my food.