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How to save money with menu planning

Save money with menu planning.

Save Money With Menu Planning

One night while I was surfing the web, I came across a website that was talking about menu planning. I always thought it would be way too much work and not worth my time. Plus, it’s fun to be spontaneous, right? Not so, apparently. Being spontaneous was just an excuse for me to be lazy and thus resulted in take-out for dinner… and I was done with that whole charade.

Ever since that night, I have been planning our weekly menus and it has saved us so much money.

For more menu planning tips & tricks, check out my eBook, How to Achieve Menu Planning Success. I’m sure it will help!

I believe that menu planning is an absolute must if you want to save money on groceries – and it’s really not that hard to do, I promise!

I don’t always stick to my menu plan. There are times when we just don’t feel like having anything on it and so we will make something else instead. However, having that plan written out is a great way to avoid buying take-out and that’s why we do it.

This is how we plan our weekly menus:

Shop the stockpile

The very first thing I do when I am planning our weekly menu is to take inventory of the items I already have on hand. This is one very easy way to start your menu. Perhaps you see some macaroni in your pantry, frozen broccoli in the freezer and cheddar cheese in the fridge… well, lucky you – those are all the fixings for a yummy pot of No Bake Broccoli Mac N’ Cheese.

Going through what you already have is a good first step in planning your menu. This will help you to use up food items before they expire.

When I’m unsure how to piece my ingredients together, I often use the Ingredient Search feature on All Recipes.

Read the sales flyers

This is a very important step when it comes to menu planning. Consulting your sales flyers will show you all of the items that are on sale at your stores for that week.

The cheapest items are usually on the front page. These are called “loss-leaders” which means that the prices are so cheap on those items that the store is not making any money. Those are the items you should be paying the most attention to.

Pull coupons

Go through your coupon stash and see if you can find any coupons to match up with the items on sale at your stores. If you can find some, set them aside for your shopping trip.

Put all of your coupons into a envelope or something easy to carry with you to the store. If you have are a member of any Canadian rewards programs, don’t forget to bring your cards and any points coupons you may need. Having things in one spot will make it much easier for you when you are at the grocery store and are ready to check out.

Plan your menu

Now that you have shopped your stockpile, read the sales flyers and pulled your coupons, you’re ready to get down to business. It’s time to menu plan!

I have a list of food ideas that I usually consult when I am trying to make up a weekly menu. There are a few recipes that I make almost every week. I usually start my menu with those. You can also check out Menu Plan Monday for an abundance of menu ideas.

For more menu planning tips & tricks, check out my eBook, How to Achieve Menu Planning Success. I’m sure it will help!

It may seem like a lot of work, but after a few weeks, you will start to get the hang of it and menu planning will be much easier.

Just think of all the money and stress you are going to save by doing something as simple as planning your menu for a week!

Do you plan weekly menus? How do you do it?


  1. Tara


    I don’t meal plan. I’m not home every night for dinner (working)… and we can eat their food –breakfast, lunch and dinner, so I don’t even have to worry about bringing food, lol! I do plan a wee bit ahead and do as you suggested–look at what I have available… and create! Daughter is picky and pretty stuck on a few items, so I make the meal/part of the meal how she MAY eat it, otherwise I whip up soup or KD for her, no problemo, lol!

  2. Jen

    Yes, I menu plan every week. I buy grocheries, come home, bake 4 or 5 dishes and freeze them. I hate cooking with a passion, so I try to get it over and done with so I don’t have to think about it during the week. On the nights when we don’t have a planned supper, it is usually eggs, toast, pasta, sandwiches, pancakes or soup.

  3. Amanda

    Do you use a the computer program, website, calender or just the old school way pen & paper?

    I’ve been doing this since I started really watching what I eat but not sure the best way to do it…and was wondering what how you do it…

  4. Ashley

    I’ve been menu planning for a year now, and I LOVE IT! I would never go back to not having it. Not only does it make my life a heck of a lot easier, I eat much healthier too. We used to get take out on a daily basis, but when we moved into our condo about a year and a half ago, we went from a little dingy kitchen with no counter space, to a nice open kitchen with tons of counter space. So having the space to cook, actually makes me want to cook at home. Menu planning has saved us tons of money. I also make sure I make extra of whatever we are having for dinner, so that I can take the leftovers for lunch the following day.

    OMG! I love the skinnytaste link you posted 🙂 Not only do her recipes look delicious, but she even has calculated how many weight watchers points some of the recipes are…which is fantastic because I’m on weight watchers!

  5. cheryl

    unfortunately i don’t meal plan .. i’m pretty good at using what we have on hand and always have the basics to whip something up .. it does get so annoying thinking about what to make though!

  6. Lattelady

    I have been menu planning for quiet a while, and it sure stops the question”whats for dinner” when its written on the fridge to see. I bought menu plan magnet pads at Michaels. I find this makes me use what I have and not go out and buy stuff I dont need.

  7. Bette @ Frugal Mom X3

    I’ve been menuplanning for a while now and For the month of January challenged myself to only spend $60 (or Less) for a family a five and I’ve come in under every-single-time. Menu planning saves money and frustation when all the kids are starving and I don’t have to think of what to make for dinner that night.

    • Cassie Howard

      Bette – I agree that menu planning saves money and frustration for sure! I hate the question “what’s for dinner?”. Just look at the menu on the fridge!
      Latte Lady – I’ll have to look for that Michaels board!

  8. Cathy

    I realllllly enjoyed this post!!!!
    wow, i’ve NEVER menu planned before; i’m pretty good at ‘inventing’ recipes with the deals we find at the grocery/market (as in.. reduced 🙂 ) **BUT** ‘inventing’ can only take you so far.. – i wanted to aim at trying new recipes now and then this year (my initial target was once a week – too ambitious…)
    WOW!!!!! Skinny taste may become my inspiration for recipes!!! ohhh.. thanks for sharing her!!!
    and… Menu plan monday blogger seems reallllly organised – quite inspirational too for my 2011 organizing aspirations! :)(BUT… just so you know, not as inspirational as you: YOU are my TOP inspiration!! 🙂
    Have a nice week all!!! 🙂

  9. Tiffany

    Unfortunately i don’t menu plan but i have before and i loved it, but its just a little harder for me now since we moved and im a little further from a store and i dont drive and i am not guaranteed to make it shopping so i just panic last min. everyday =S but i should get into again, or at least try and it might be easier now that i have found coupons and i am growing a little bit of a stock pile =) thank you for the post, i have some planning to do now =)

    PS I love! all recipes, they have been my go to place for a while now!

    • Cassie Howard

      Tiffany – Yes, definetely try it again once you are all settled. The time it takes to menu plan is TOTALLY worth it!

      Cathy – Thanks Cathy! Yes, inventing can only go so far.. I used to do that too haha.
      Skinny Taste is AWESOME, huh? I love her site.
      and Menu Plan Monday blogger is a professional organizer, so that’s why she looks so organized. 😛 She’s great!

  10. Amanda

    Do you just plan your dinners or lunch & breakfast too?

    • Cassie Howard

      Usually just dinners, but our breakfasts are almost always the same… I really need to start planning for lunches though, because I never know what to make!

  11. crystal

    Hello My name is Crystal I have just recently started menu planning 2 weeks ago and something I plan to continue . I have a family of 6 and havent had this much freedom in so long. Peace of mind for sure when it saves you the hastle of not knowing what your having . My husband hasnt said to me in those 2 weeks “we have nothing to eat” the kids have been loving the different meals we make every day. We were so sick of having the same stuff every day. We also find we are eating way healthier and feel much more energy and feel like we are already loosing weight. we make everything from scratch even school snacks we are starting to buy. We use for our dinner recipes. I too also have gave my recipes to my sister and my parents as i know they need to save money Im thinking this could come as a little side job of helping others save money. 🙂

  12. Tiffany

    I loosely meal plan.
    I usually cook up batches of frozen sides/mains so that on the days I am ‘stuck’, then I can just defrost one of these. I always make sure to have enough veggies and base my meal around that – I find that in our house, it is never a challenge to ‘find enough’ grains, dairy and meats/alts! I have become quite adept at making what i call ‘concoctions’/experiments for dinner – ha!

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