I've always tried to be relatively frugal with our meals, but now it's on overdrive. Here's how my weekly meal planning goes:
1)Shop the cupboards: I start off by checking the fridge, freezer, pantry, and in warm weather I'll check the garden. My husband hunts, so we have a decent amount of venison in the freezer, and meat is usually the most expensive part of each meal. I also tend to have some frozen vegetables that I will have picked up during store sales. I'll start filling in my weekly menu based on items we already have.
2) Price Match: I'll take a look at the Wednesday grocery sales flyers or the Sunday Target/Wal-Mart flyers to see what the cheapest food is each week. I'll use this to complete my weekly meal plan. When I get to the store I'll either price match at my favorite grocery store or go to the store with the cheapest groceries that week, and price match the remaining items on my list there. Locally we have only one store that doesn't price match, but as I rarely go there that's not much of an issue for me.
3) Shop from a list: I really try hard not to go to the store more than once a week. Since we eat nearly every meal at home, that ends up being a pretty full cart. By having a detailed list I get everything I need for the week and avoid adding pricey extras on each trip. I like using allrecipes.com to create a detailed shopping list.
4) Scratch & Dent/Day old bread: Most grocery stores have a clearance area or a cart full of items that are banged up or nearing their expiration date. I take a look at this area on every trip, but I won't buy unless it's an item that we will use in a timely basis. Generally my bread comes from the day old cart, and occasionally I will purchase meat that is nearing its expiration date.
5) Use Coupons. I have a friend who saves beaucoup on her groceries using coupons, but that hasn't worked well for our family. I do use coupons for laundry detergent, toothpaste, deodorant, and other manufactured consumables, but I also compare the price with coupon to the store brand and to buying in bulk.
What works well for your family?