Caroline, recently nominated as Most Valuable Blogger by CBS Miami, is considered an “old soul” among friends. She thrives on “been there, done that” experiences from fellow moms. She shares the knowledge and experiences she has gained to her social network through SmartyPantsMama.com, twitter.com/SmartyPantsMama, YouTube.com/SmartyPantsMama and Facebook.com/SmartyPantsMama. Be sure to follow her at these locations for her latest rants and raves of parenting!
Sanity in the Checkout Aisle
It’s Sunday. Laundry needs to get done, playroom picked up and menu planned. The weekly menu that I create helps me, a Smart Mama, keep me sane and on a budget. Why? When I sit down and preplan what will be filling our tummies each night, I have the time to sift through our current inventory of food, preventing me from buying things at full price; instead I use things I had previously bought on sale. Secondly, I’m not stressing out at 5 PM on a weekday when I realize that I haven’t thought about dinner.
Here’s how I do it:
My 1st step is the calendar. I need to know if my kids have any activities at night that might include dinner, or require a lighter or heavier meal. I also need to check with Tom (SmartyPantsDada.com) to see his anticipated work schedule. With enough business trips and late work nights, I keep from making some of his favorite dishes on nights he’s out. My next stop is the fridge. I look to see what proteins are in the meat drawer. I note their “use by” dates. Depending on how many proteins are, I’ll hit the freezer next.
At this point I’ll ask the family for their recommendations. Sometimes I’m nice enough to let each of them choose a meal of their choice. I typically get the same response of Isabella, and my husband sometimes will suggest something I’m really not in the mood to make – hence why it’s just a “sometimes.”
Now knowing the proteins and recommendations, I hit the grocery store circular to see the good deals on proteins. Winn-Dixie, a local grocery store, tends to do a lot of “buy 1 get 1 free” promotions with their meats, so I usually look there 1st.
It’s now time to think of myself! I can start thinking about what I actually want to cook and recipes I may have recently come across. I scan through some of my favorite food blogs, such as SkinnyTaste.com, in search of yummy and easy ways of using my proteins. With the school calendar in effect, I’ll also try to get at least one slow cooker recipe in there, great for that crazy soccer mom schedule. At the end, I’ve noted what ingredients aren’t in the pantry and make my list.
My last online stop is a coupon deals site. From there I can learn what products are at a great price this week. The product might not be part of the coming week’s menu, but they may be the following week. I stock up on pantry items and proteins – all items I’ll look when I plan future menus. I’ll cut out the coupons that correspond with the deals and then I’m done!
When I hit the grocery store later that afternoon I have:
· my list in hand,
· a copy of my menu,
· a printout of the best deals at the stores,
· lots of coupons
My shopping experience is much more effective than when I go without a list and without coupons. Don’t get me wrong, I can be a sucker for new products, unexpected deals, and can become a bit of an impulse buyer. But all in all, I try to stick to my list, which means I stick to my menu.
What Smart Mama strategies do you use to make weekly dinner less stressful and on a budget? Looking forward to adding your “been there, done that” experiences to my Smart Mama Toolbox!
- Caroline -