To that end, I sat down to make a 3-week dinner menu, trying a new format some cyber friends suggested.
Sundays - Crockpot meal
Mondays - Chicken/beef meal
Tuesdays - Meatless meal
Wednesdays - Mexican (which may or may not be meatless)
Thursdays - Leftovers
Fridays - Pizza/sandwiches (until Lent begins, at which point this category will switch with Saturday's meatless option)
Saturdays - Meatless meal
Once I had my menu made out (only 1 repeat in 21 days, pretty good if I do say so myself), I sat down to make the shopping list. I spent 10 minutes debating whether or not I should bake my own bread and make my own hot chocolate mix. Seriously, I could not decide for the life of me.
I ended up deciding I'd make my own dinner breads, but would buy the sandwich breads and the hot chocolate. All right, already! Back to the list. I have some meat already purchased and in the freezer, so that's good. The rest of the list looks pretty manageable.
Then it was time to gather up the coupons to match what was on my list. Ideally, I would have made my menu with the grocery ad in front of me, then matched coupons to that. But I figured I was good to get the menu made in the first place. So first I went to coupons.com and clicked then printed all the coupons that appealed to me. Then I went to Meijer.com, clicked through the Meal Box and printed those coupons.
As if I wasn't couponed enough by then, I dug through last Sunday's paper for the coupon inserts to see if there were any coupons I need there. (Still haven't gotten that coupon system down I put on my 2010 to do list).
At that point, I needed to lay down for a nap because I'd been working on this freaking menu and shopping list for something like 3 hours! Feeling too guilty to nap, I stayed with it, marking the list as to what I'd buy at Meijer and what I'll buy at Aldi. Of course, neither store is very close to us -- that would be Marsh and Target. But their prices are higher - unless I have my 10% off shopping certificate for filling 10 prescriptions at the Target pharmacy.
Ordinarily, I do my big shopping at Meijer, but my sister swears by the produce at Aldi. I stopped in there the other day and some of the things were pretty cheap. However, shopping there requires a to-do list all its own. Have cash -- and a quarter for the cart -- ready. Bring your own shopping bags. Leave the coupons at home.
So now I have my 3-week menu, my Meijer list, my Aldi list, my printed coupons, my newspaper coupons and my obsessive mind wondering if I should get any of this stuff at Costco.
What don't I have?
Think I might have to go get those tomorrow because all this work getting ready to go shopping has quite frankly worn me out and left me thinking, "just how much is my time worth anyway?"
(And you know as soon as I get home, I'll be pulling out the Sharpie marker and putting half of the groceries into hiding. Otherwise all my budgeting and planning will be eaten right before my eyes!)