Simplified Menu Planning: Day 15 – Identify Your Food Sources

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31 Days to Simplify Your Menu Planning

31 Easy Steps to Real Foods Planned, Purchased, & Prepared

Set up your pantry, grocery list, menu plan, and dinner recipes to simplify and streamline the process. Dinner happens every day. Be prepared. 31 Days to Simplified Menu Planning will show you how to develop a simple, easy, and effective strategy for feeding your family every day: without an avalanche of papers.

After sorting through the kitchen and recipes and creating a master grocery list, we are now ready to address the topic of grocery shopping and keeping food frugally stocked.

Where do you shop?

The first step to creating a grocery shopping strategy – yes, strategy – is to decide on which stores you will frequent. This depends entirely on your area and your style. As you think through your options, consider these questions:

  • Which stores have the absolute best non-sale prices?
  • Which stores have great weekly sale items?
  • Which stores are not worth the time to even look at the ads, because the prices are never lower than the discount grocer’s normal prices?
  • What local resources do you want to use? (butcher, farmer’s market, eggs/dairy, etc.)
  • Are you going to be an extreme couponer? Or would you rather keep things simple? Is it worth the time to you? Do you buy items that have coupons?
  • Do you have any bulk food sources?
  • Is there a bigger city nearby where you might do larger trips less frequently?
  • Do you care about organic/local/etc.?

There are so many factors that there is no one-size-fits-most strategy. If you have no idea what you “should” settle on, spend some time polling friends and random local people as to where they usually shop and why. Try out all your options, bringing a short list of your top 5-8 basic items and price compare.

One goal you want to accomplish with this step is eliminating guilt or vague uncertainty. Do you think you “should” shop at a lot of stores to get the best deal at each one? You might actually find that the local discount grocer’s normal prices are the same as the rock-bottom deals at Safeway. So why bother with Safeway, unless it’s really close or carries something the other doesn’t or some other reason? Do you not know what your options really are, so you just shop at the closest grocery store by default? Take a little time and do at least a basic comparison or just think it through intentionally, eliminate some of the options and feel good about doing so rather than guilty.

Tomorrow we’ll consider 5 ways to keep meat stocked in your pantry.


Mystie Winckler began menu planning at 11 years old when her mom delegated one dinner a week to her. Marrying at 19, she’s had a lot of practice over the years. But between growing and homeschooling her family, meal planning often requires brain power that just isn’t there any more. Simplified Dinners is her solution to take the effort and thought out of healthy, frugal cooking. And now it is available for you, too! During the month of October only, while this series is running, use discount code 31days and receive $4 off!

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