Saturday, June 11, 2011

Couponing - Step 1

I took a couponing class in the middle of May that was offered free from a well known local lady who has been couponing for a while. I have been working on my steps and still have a ways to go, but I feel like I am making progress most days. I promised to share what I learned here and I am finally ready to start.

The local site that I have been using is Cincy Savers. I have also been looking at blogs and other sites for deals as well, but Little Miss Know It All (aka LMKIA or Heather) who taught the class works at this site and it contains a lot of the local deals and information that I use when I prep for shopping trips. LMKIA's steps are listed on this page on the site, but she goes into a lot more detail in the class.

Step 1 is Create a Monthly Menu Plan. When Heather started discussing this step, I believe there were actually groans from the audience! I may have been one of them! lol So what you do is print off a blank calendar month and start filling in dinners for each night. When most people start this step, they think they have around 8 meals that they can make, but once they start thinking about what they can do, they are surprised to see that they have a lot more meals in their repertoire than they originally thought.

When you are filling in the calendar, put in family favorites in for one night each week and make sure that you pick a night to have one of your favorites as well. Heather said that once you have one calendar made, you can just reuse it for each month so that you are not spending the time each month to make a new calendar. Just mix up the nights a little or even leave them as they are and see how long it takes your family to notice the rotation.

Since summer eating and winter eating tend to be a little different, Heather has a spring/summer menu and a fall/winter menu.

When I worked on my menu, I decided that I would add in breakfast and lunch just to make sure that I have all of my bases covered. My plan at the start was to work on some meals that I could freeze to have portions for lunches as well. This way, I could eat healthier at work with home made meals instead of eating frozen dinners with the extra preservatives.

The task seemed very daunting at first! But once I figured out my breakfasts, and added in my easy dinners that involved a can of vegetables, a piece of cheese and a piece of bread, I was good to go. I figured out that if I made 3, maybe 4 meals, at the beginning of each month and then freeze the portions individually, that I can still have a variety of meals to eat for lunches and dinner for the remainder of the month and I shouldn't get burnt out on anything.

For this menu, I won't have to change it for each season because I just identified the times that I would eat a frozen portion and I can change up whatever casseroles or meals that I make at the beginning of the month. After talking to a couple of the other ladies who took the class, I think that this was the purpose of the menu plan - to know that you have the ability to make things ahead of time so that you can plan what to get at the store when it's on sale. The menu plan is more of a fluid idea so that you know what to expect ahead of time for planning purposes.

A side bonus for the freezing of meals is that I haven't been buying a lot of food at the cafeteria at work and I have been able to watch what I have been eating a little better. I have lost 5.5 lbs so far!

The dogs wanted to remind me to include them on the menu plan. They like bones!



Regina said...

This is a great idea - we do weekly but I can see the benefits of monthly. we also make and freeze things -but with no set plan of when to eat them again so they stockpile. This can help with that, too.

Deanna said...

Congratulations! I think cooking for one is harder in some ways than cooking for a crowd. The idea of buy what you use and use what you buy is a good one. My plans tend to be a bit more flexible (I am a fairly adventurous cook) and planned more week-to-week based on what is on sale more than what I want to buy. But the concept is the same.

Jennifer said...

Really like this idea of planning a whole month. We tend to go a couple of weeks with a plan, then wing it and always eat worse on the weeks we wing it. And way to go with the weight loss!

Vicky said...

Congrats on getting organized on couponing and cooking! You're my hero du jour!

I love Maxie looking over at Maisy in the first picture! I want to put a balloon over his head saying, "Mommy, her bone is bigger than mine!"

Anonymous said...

Good advice. Sounds like you're rocking it!

PunkiePie (Jen) said...

I would like to know what her favorite coupon clipping services are. If I could pick and choose coupons instead of clipping myself.... I would probably use them more.

Infinity Quilter/Knitter said...

Great idea! We see to have the same things every other week so maybe it wouldn't be so difficult to plan a month out!