Wednesdays are rather busy days for me. I do all my menu planning, shopping, and some record-keeping on top of all my regular duties. I have to admit that menu planning is my favorite part. I have so much fun doing it!
Planning a weekly menu can be very beneficial. It saves a lot of money, keeps our grocery bill within our budget, and saves me time in the kitchen throughout the week. It usually takes me 1-2 hours, but I have found it's worth it. It takes 2 hours when I'm lacking inspiration or we have a tight budget, but it usually doesn't take me longer than an 1 1/2 hours. This is what I do.
I always start by taking an inventory of what's in my fridge and cupboards. Then I pull up the online ad for the local grocery store. I make sure that I have my cookbooks by my side, and I plan dishes for all my meals for the week. This takes the most time. I write my plans on little slips of paper--one for each day. This helps me to use up what's in my fridge (nothing wasted!) and it helps me take advantage of what's on sale that week. It also encourages me to find and try new recipes that use up ingredients.
As I go along, I add up the cost of each item. I make sure that everything fits within the budget. And I make up a grocery list. I try to use coupons, too, although I'm not the biggest "couponer." I even include tax at the end (I multiply the total by 1.06) so that I know for sure I don't go over my limit.
And then I pin my little slips of paper onto my menu board and go shopping!