5 Days of Meal Planning & Menu Organization – Day 5: Extra Helps!

Here we are, we’ve made it to Day 5! I hope that you all have enjoyed reading this series as much as I have enjoyed writing it. I am so incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to join in with all these other talented writers.   I have been both challenged and encouraged from reading all the great posts and comments.

Now, lets do a re-cap…
Day 1: I showed you my key to survival, the “Master Command Center,” and provided you with some printables to get you started.
Day 2: “The Weekly Menu,” was about how to plan meals for the entire week; breakfast, lunch, snacks & dinner with the provided menu freebie.
Day 3: I revealed my secret to “The Shopping Trip.” by providing you with my shopping list printable and showing you how to break the trip down by zones. I also provided other money-saving tips.
Day 4: I tackled “The Pantry & Fridge,” which is an area that is still in progress. However, I provided you with some tips that help me get things put in order and attempt to keep it that way.
Day 5: Today, I am giving you a bonus of helpful tips and resources that I use to keep the meal time grind up and running!

We live in a relatively small and rural community with limited shopping spots. Coupon clipping is almost irrelevant because if they have the item, they rarely double or triple the savings and never accept self-printed coupons. One thing they will is price match with their competitors which does sometimes help. You just keep the adds from the paper and pay the cheapest price without wandering all over town for one or two items per store.

The first investment that I recommend is a good sturdy clipboard! I prefer one that has the ability to hang so that it can be located within the command center. I am also looking to purchase one that has a false back with the compartment in it like this one from Amazon.com.

Mobile Apps…
We live in the day & age where we can have about anything at the touch of our finger with smartphones. I have used the “Out-Of-Milk” free mobile app before and have found it helpful. It allows you to make a list and add to it by scanning the UPC on products you are using. There are probably others you can search for in your provider’s app store. It is really your personal preference technology vs. old fashioned pen and paper!
Online Shopping…
Because of the above named challenges, I have searched for some cheaper options with on-line shopping. Here are some of my favorite sites:
This is probably my favorite!!! You will have to register as a user (which is free), then it allows you to browse its products and create shopping lists with purchase reminders. The thing I like best is that they have instant coupons from the manufacturer and you are able to search through items on sale. The shipping is also cheap and the order arrives quickly. They also arrive in great, sturdy boxes that can be up-cycled for children to play with!
We all know about this gem! It is great for purchasing high quantities of regularly used items such as batteries, etc…
Reward Programs…
These are programs that allow you to earn incentives back on your investments. One that I have used for years is Gifts-To-Grow from pampers. (I believe that Huggies has one also, but I personally have never used it.) We use pampers products and so do several of my daycare parents. It is free to enroll and you just enter the codes inside the products and earn points to redeem for new toys, magazines, videos, $ off next purchase etc…
When we lived in a larger city I regularly shopped at Dillons grocery which had a key pass to earn instant saving on determined items. Every penny saved adds up to overall larger savings. (They also have awesome coupon redemption policies!) I know that other grocery markets have similar savings incentives. 
Shop in a Co-op…
I shop for produce through Bountiful Baskets. If you are in an area that they service I highly recommend checking it out! It is a non-profit service that enables you to get fresh produce for cheap. I receive one basket of half fruit and half veggies for the low price of $15 every two weeks. They also have add-on options of breads, specialty veggies/fruit, seasonal goodies, granola and an organic option.
I have several friends that shop via  Azure Standard co-op. Though I am not completely familiar with the process, I have heard great things!
In a mealtime slump?…
I LOVE browsing Pinterest, Food Network, Taste Of Home, Better Homes and Gardens, Midwest Living and old church cookbooks for new recipes or twists on old favorites. Keep it simple but flavorful and if something doesn’t hit a home run with the fam, pitch the recipe and try something new next time! Get the whole family involved in planning and preparing the meals. Make it a fun family time while teaching them life skills in the process, I call it Home Economics 101 haha!
I hope that this series has inspired a new found love, or rekindled an old one, of planning meals and organizing menus for your family to enjoy together. Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a comment telling us about your favorite organization helps!

I am excited to be part of this 5 day series with a group of great bloggers! This week you can read about organizing things from your kitchen, homschool room, fitness routine and much much more. Make sure to click over to the main landing page and check out all the different topics and post. Also register below for the $35 paypal gift certificate. Visit the other bloggers for more giveaways!

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