Gather your shopping list and grocery ad flyers. If you don’t get the grocery ads in the newspaper, you can download it from the store’s website.
Check what you have “on hand." Check your refrigerator, freezer and cupboard for foods that need to be used up in the next few days, or that have been in the house for a long time. Write these foods on the menu planner under "On Hand."
Review the items you listed under "on hand" and think of ways you can use these foods. Write those ideas in the spaces for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner/supper. You may need to buy some foods to go with the items "on hand." If so, put these on the grocery list. As you use up items from the "on hand" list, cross them off your meal planning sheet.
Review the grocery ads for specials you can use. Circle those items on your grocery ad.
Think of meals your family likes to eat which include the foods you have circled. Try to fill in the meals for five days. You don’t have to specify a day for the meals unless you want to -- that way you can be flexible according to what happens during the week. It is fine to indicate that you will use leftovers or that for breakfast you will have something like “cold cereal/fruit/milk” for several days. Just make sure you have enough of these foods available for that number of days. Think about what your family has coming up during those five days. Do you need quick meals, company meals, something for a potluck, or something for the crock-pot?
Review your meals and see if there is something from each of the food groups in most of your meals. This is the simplest way to make sure your meals are healthy. Another way is to add up the amount of foods you are getting in each of the food groups for a day and compare it to the amount you need, which you can find on MyPlate. For example, how much food are you getting from the dairy group? Vegetable group? Fruit group? Protein group? Compare this number to the amount you need based on MyPlate.
If you have extra money and there are good specials on items your family uses regularly, try to stock up. If you continue to plan using this method, these bargains will be put to good use.