{ Day 4: Menu Planning and Coupons }

Do you already have a great menu planned for this week? Have you done your shopping for the week? Did you use coupons? If so, you can stop reading here. If not, you may want to read on....

A couple months ago I made it a goal to go to the grocery store once a week! In order to reach that goal, I had to use the power of menu planning! I will be honest, I don't plan every meal of every day of the week. As a SAHM of two little kids, our life is not perfectly scheduled! So, I plan for dinner! I always keep essential lunch items {hot dogs, chicken nuggets, fruits, veggies, lunch meat, bread, etc.} on hand and replenish those when needed, but I do plan out the dinners for each week!

I sit down every Monday morning and go through the Sunday paper. I pull out the coupons, and any sales fliers for stores that I am interested in/need to go to this week.

Now, every person who coupons has their own strategy that works well for them. Some couponers save the entire coupon booklet from the paper. Others clip just the coupons they want. Me? I am a coupon clipper. Plan and simple. If it isn't something I would buy... I don't clip it. Things like toilet paper, paper towels, feminine products, deodorant, toothpaste, laundry detergent... etc. I clip the brands that I am most apt to use. Then, I hold on to them until one of the brands goes on sale and if it's a good deal, I buy that one. I am not too picky about my brands.

Now that I have clipped my coupons, I store them in a coupon organizer like this one from Target.
I have mine divided as follows:
Baby items: diapers, cream, powder, pull ups, etc.
Produce: fruits, veggies, etc.
Dairy: milk, cheese, eggs, etc.
Snacks: fruit snacks, crackers, cookies, etc.
Frozen Foods: anything found in the frozen foods section
Household: cleaners, paper goods, detergents, etc.
Toiletries: deodorant, feminine products, toothpaste, makeup, etc.
Baking: cake mixes, frosting, spices, oils, etc.
Canned Goods
Dry Foods: cereals, rice, pasta, etc.

My coupon organizer also gives me an extra pocket in the back. I use this one for store specific coupons. I paper clip each store's coupons together. Then when I get ready to put together my menu and shopping list, I can look at the coupons for that specific store.

When my shopping list is complete, I paper clip all the coupons for that grocery store together and put them in the extra front pocket of my organizer.

Then I carry my organizer and my list to the store. You can find my grocery list printable here.

Want to see another cute idea on how to store and organize your coupons? Click here to visit I Heart Organizing and see how she does it!

Of course, as I said before, everyone uses a slightly different system when it comes to organizing coupons. You have to do what works for you. Maybe it's a combination of systems. No matter what it is, just make sure it is organized!

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To help with menu planning, I have created a weekly menu planner printable for you. Laminate it and use it every week, or print a new one each week! Thanks to yesterday's post, our recipes are all nice and organized so that we can find them for our menu planning! If you want to be really organized, you can have pre-made weekly menus. Each week, pull out a new menu. If you are going out one night, then just cross it off your menu for the week. This aids in easy menu planning, as well as rotating your recipes. Plan several weeks at once and save yourself time!

Click here to download the PDF file.

Tip Junkie also has a fun menu planner printable you can download.

If you want to be a super organizer, plan several sample menu's. Then, each week, just grab one of your sample menu's. You can even have your grocery lists all planned based on your sample menu. Paper clip them together. Then, simply add whatever "staple" items you need to purchase to your already formulated shopping list and you are ready to go!

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For more info on coupon-ing.. I have a couple great sites for you to take a look at:

http://www.couponmom.com/ - coupon basics, printable coupons
http://www.cellfire.com/ - coupons to add directly to your Von's/Ralph's/pavilions cards
http://www.groupon.com/ - save on local businesses in your area
http://www.ebates.com/ - discount codes for online shopping
http://www.coupons.com/ - printable manufacturer coupons
http://www.smartsource.com/ - printable manufacturer coupons
http://www.redplum.com/ - printable manufacturer coupons
http://www.pgesaver.com/ - printable and grocery card coupons
http://www.hip2save.com/ - great overall deals, coupons, and suggestions
http://www.mamacheaps.com/ - great overall deals, coupons, and advice

Tomorrow: Important Information Binder

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