Menu planning – forward or backward?

I always used to plan my menus and then my shopping list based on those menus. More recently, I brought out the ads and integrated them during menu planning, trying to use what’s on sale. But lately, that has changed.

Lately, I’ve been going through my cupboards and making notes of what is there, and then planning how to use it. Shop first, menu plan after. I find this actually saves me money. But it seems to be against the normal plan-then-shop order touted in magazines and other organization material.

The only problem with this topsy turvy approach is that sometimes I don’t have everything for a recipe on hand when I get home with my items. Often it’s a recipe I’ve found after I’ve brought home a bargain, and depending on the item, I might make a quick trip for it or I might save my bargain and make it (with the elusive ingredient) later. Of course, fewer trips out means less money spent, but sometimes, that cheese fondue is just screaming my name! (So to the store for mustard powder I go–but I come out with only mustard powder. OK, and milk. But nothing more.)

So backwards or forwards, menu planning is good. And money-saving!

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