Part of my success with using coupons comes from the fact that I also plan my meals each week and maintain a well-stocked pantry. I use my coupons when stores have sales to maximize my savings, which allows me to buy extra of some items to stockpile in my pantry.
The catch to all this is that if you stockpile items and store food, you must also USE this food! If you store it and save it and never use it, it will go bad at some point. We don’t want that! It defeats the purpose of planning and saving.
Each week when I create my meal plan, I take a look at what food items I already have on hand on my pantry. I see if there are meals I can cook that will use some of my food storage, and then I buy whatever fresh items I might need to round out the ingredient list.
I love cooking out of my pantry for a few reasons:
- By creating meals that use the items I have previously purchased at a good price, I save money. Buying 5 items I need for a meal this week would be more expensive that using those 5 items from my pantry where they were purchased for a much lower cost.
- When I rely on my pantry for the bulk of the ingredients in my weekly cooking, my shopping list for the week is smaller, which means I spend less money at the store.
- Using my food storage allows me to rotate my stock, using up older items and making room for new items when I snag them on a deep discount.
- I feel good about it! Who wouldn’t feel good about saving money and cooking good food for their family?
This week I wanted to use up a chicken that I had in the freezer. I looked at some chicken recipes I liked and came up with two that used everything I already had except for three ingredients!
In addition to being able to cook almost entirely from my pantry this week, I was also able to plan a week of meals that only had me cooking twice. Leftovers are always a part of my meal planning, and that saves money AND time!
This week I am making Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas (from Cooking Light) and also Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings (from Betty Crocker). For the enchiladas I only needed flour tortillas and some diced green chilis, which I should have had stocked but did not. The Chicken and Dumplings only needed some dry soup mix, again something I should have had in my pantry but had not been stockpiled yet.
I was able to cook both meals from only one chicken in my deep freeze. I had Hubby cut up the chicken for me, and I used the two breasts for the enchiladas, and then Hubby helped de-bone and cut up all the dark meat for my Chicken and Dumplings! Two meals, one bird!
How do you manage your pantry and meal planning to save money each week? I’d love to hear your approach!