Modern menu building on a budget: step 4 – consult the sales flyers

I used to think that consulting sales flyers and clipping coupons was a huge waste of time. And granted, a lot of the time it is. Many food manufacturers create coupons for cheap food to make it seem like you’re getting a better deal than you really are. $1.00 off of some sugary cereal here, $.50 off of some processed item there, and there you have it – a cart full of crap food that will leave you both hungry AND unhealthy. Awesome.

But I’m learning that if you regularly shop somewhere, you can build the bulk of your menu around things that are on sale week after week. For example, take Whole Foods or your local co-op. Think back to our previous post on your buying habits.

Now consider your inventory. What can you put together with the rice in your pantry and the leftover veg in your fridge? How about risotto? Grab your sales flyer, find chicken (it’s almost always on there), grab some stock (or make your own – it’s easy and cheap), use up your leftover white wine, saute the vegetables, bake the chicken and add it all in at the end when the rice is finished cooking. A little parmesan cheese and you’re set.

This is just one example of how you can supplement the food you already have with food you will definitely use. Love eggs? Buy a dozen, but plan out the meals where you’ll use them. Eat a lot of sandwiches? Find the bread that’s on sale.

The goal when you go shopping should be to buy things that will eventually bring the amount of food in your house down. When the amount of food in your house goes down (because you’re eating it and not throwing it away), that means you’re saving money. And in vintage eating, saving money and minimizing food waste is the name of the game.

A couple more tips: Don’t shun store and off-brands because, generally, they’re the same thing as the major brands anyway. Also, don’t forget about your local farmer’s market for in-season fruits and veggies. This produce is often the best and freshest you can get, and nothing beats putting a name and face to the person who grew your food. Lastly, check out my old-OLD post on Fair Food Fight for other ways you can save money while shopping.

Next up is a post where we’ll build a hypothetical menu for you and show you what this all looks like. Thanks for reading! To keep up with us on a daily basis, be sure to follow us on Twitter and become our fan on Facebook.

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Published in: on 28 November, 2011 at 12:16  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I recently checked a circular at our local grocery store and found a coupon that meant I could get a $7 box of clementine oranges for $4. Now the sale is over and the clementines are $7 again. I wish I had bought two boxes!

    I don’t subscribe to or buy a local newspaper, but one of our local grocery stores has the weekly flyers by the front of the store, so I just grab one and peruse as I go. There is a lot of junk in them, but sometimes you can find good deals on produce.

  2. […] your inventory in hand? Saved a ton using coupons and sales flyers? Built your template? Now here’s a sample menu that pulls it all together. First, look at […]

  3. […] 4. Figure out what you can buy on sale. It’s about being flexible and also, about knowing what you regularly eat week after week. Watch for those items (or those type of items) while perusing sales flyers. Also, bear in mind what you already have, so that you can pick up additional items to supplement. […]


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