At the first of each month Mom and I do a great big Costco meat run. Everything gets divvied up and frozen. So when I sit down to make a list, I know that we always have chicken breast, ground beef and steak on hand. When I make the list I try not to overdo it on one type of meat. If I plan to use any other type of meat, I pick it up from the market that week.
Disclaimer: I am not a couponer. I don't base my meals by what is on sale. I buy what I know my family will eat. Because to me, no matter how on sale something might be, if we won't eat it there is no point in buying it.
Typically, I use a piece of printer paper and divide it into thirds lengthwise - one column each for the meals, produce and everything else. I do this so that I don't forget what I'm supposed to be making with everything. Vegetables are purchased from Smith's - because I like their produce better than the stuff at Wal-mart and because I pick up a gift card to Lowe's every week to get the gas discount. Everything else is typically from Wal-mart (I save $2 a can just on our coffee! How can the price of coffee differ so much from one store to the next?!)
So here is what my lists look like. I included pictures from 2 weeks in a row so you can see the rollover of meals. When I scan future lists, I will omit the items on my list that are just for our family, so that you can print them out and have room to add your own items.
Meals Wal-mart Smith's
Meals Smith's Wal-mart
Also of importance, I think, would be that I don't cook with any specialty pots or pans except one. I own a Deep Covered Baker from the Pampered Chef - I love it. It is the pot that comes to the rescue when you forgot to pull something out for dinner. It is like a crock-pot on steroids. Don't get me wrong, I love my Crock-Pot, but sometimes you kinda sorta forget all about dinner and that's where the Covered Baker comes in. You can throw frozen meats in there and it will cook just the same as thawed.
When you see our menus, they are good for 7 days. I plan for 6 meals because I know that somewhere during the week there will be leftovers. No meal is assigned a specific day to keep things flexible. I try to plan a few easy meals for days that I really do not feel like cooking. And if I don't wind up making a meal because there are extra leftovers of something else, I roll that meal to the next week's list since I already have the ingredients for it. Every family has different pantry items but ours are typically for spaghetti, bean burritos and King Ranch casserole - easy meals.
Every grocery list has staples.
Mine are :
From Wal-mart: milk, cereal, eggs, lunch meat, tortillas, crushed tomatoes, rice,
and El Pato Jalapeno Salsa
From Smith's: raisins, bananas, apples, onion, bell pepper, garlic, zucchini, squash, and pork
tenderloin (I get mine from Smith's because they tend to be a bit smaller and separately wrapped)
You can make just about any dish with onion, bell pepper and garlic on hand - just sayin'.
So there you have it. I hope that by making the process a little easier you will all start stepping out of the dinner rut and start trying new things! I will do a rash of recipe posts over the next few days so that you will know how to make everything. And so, as Ms.Paula Deen would say "Best Dishes to ya'll"