Last January one of my goals I set was to get more organized.
I lived in a suburban community all my life until two years ago when my husband and I moved to a very small community (900 pop). I found that I couldnt just run a 1/4 of a mile down the road to Wal-Mart or the grocery store any longer. I needed to start planning meals, shopping once, and if I didnt have something, make do with what you have. The nearest grocery store being 8 miles one way, and the nearest big box store being 10 one way. Gas prices soared and I couldnt afford to waste gas and the time for useless trips.
My sister in law received a Household Organizer for Christmas. It was really fancy and well laid out. I decided I wasnt going to spend $50 (or more I'm sure) on buying one. I figured I could find what I needed off the internet.
Well a year later and I'm well on my way to learning to break old habits, getting my organizer together and becoming more frugal.
a) Meal planning: I now have a Master List of the meals we eat most often.
b) Stocking my pantry & freezer: Based off my Master Meal List I know how much of what I need for a year.
c) Being a Super Saver Shopper. I read story after story how shoppers were waiting until rock bottom prices came along to buy grocery items and stocking up again. They say the grocery stores run on a cycle of sorts. When these rock bottom price sale comes along double it up with coupons and save even more.
After hours of searching for printable worksheets for meal planning, pantry & freezer inventory, places to print coupons off the internet, etc. here are my favorite tools.
The Utah State University Extension has a FABULOUS tool. It's A Management Plan for Home Food Storage The first thing it has you to do is print off a "Food Storage Planner" chart. List your 10-20 most served meals.
After doing this I had 26 meals. Some I only serve during the winter. Some I only serve during the summer. Now when I'm asking myself "What's for dinner" I can take a glance and see if there's something we havnt had in a while and see if I have everything to make it.
After you are done filling out this planner you will know exactly how many cans of tomato sauce, chili beans, corn, green beans, etc. you will need in your pantry to prepare your meals for a year. That way when you do catch the rock bottom sale price you know exactly how much to buy to last a year.
Then you take an inventory of your pantry/freezer. They have a printable form for this also. That way when you do catch the rock bottom sale price you know exactly how much to buy to last a year. You may not be able to buy enough of an item when the BIG sale is on, but you will always know where you stand and what you have in your pantry to prepare what meals.
Now I know what I need and how much. So my quest moved on to learning how to save on what I buy. I found CouponMom.com
The two things I'm concentrating on from that home page (cause it can be overwhelming) is the Grocery Deals By State and the Virtual Coupon Organizer. I printed off the two free ebooks found under the Grocery Deals by State and they had useful information in them to get me started.
I now have the last two sunday papers coupon sections and I will be ready next week to see what's on sale and if there is a coupon I can use.
I feel like I'm well on the road to being a more frugal cook and shopper. I'm excited about implementing these tools. I've been using the Utah State Extensions plan for a few months now and it has saved me from unneedless trips and wasted gas/time.
Let me know if you find these tools useful or if you have found something you like better please share it with me!