I hope to never again get out of the habit of planning the supper meals in advance each week. For a period of time, I had let that habit go. It is so much easier to shop, to get supper actually on the stove or in the oven each night, and I've found it really does save me money as well. I save money because I'm buying what I need, not what I think I might need, and because I'm making the vast majority of the meals from scratch or at least using minimally processed ingredients (things like brick cheese, canned tomatoes, canned fruit, and sometimes a jarred pasta sauce or salsa) instead of purchsed frozen pizzas or other frozen meals, take out, or expensive pre-cooked meats.
Today I did a grocery shop without having planned my meals and I did find myself putting things randomly into the cart. "I could probably use some of this and I think I only have one can of that left..." Granted, they are items that I regularly use and they were on sale (at least according to the sticker on the shelf - "Save 50¢!") but I most likely didn't need them now or even next week or the week after. I did grab a case of 12 cans of apple juice even though I had two full cans at home (and those cans will last two weeks because I dilute them 1:1 with water) because the sale price for individual cans was 77¢ (the regular lowest price I can find is 95¢) and the cost per can when buying a case was a fraction under 50¢.
I did my grocery shopping trip (I will pick up chicken tomorrow for the freezer) and then came home and planned our week of suppers. Supper tonight was processed and frozen, grabbed in a moment of "I have no idea what we'll have for supper tonight and look it's on sale!". We had crunchy-breaded fish fillets and McCain's fries, which were actually very good despite my feeling of failure for having bought them. The rest of the week will have a planned supper though, to be as follows:
Tuesday: crock pot roast and veggies (hoping to resuscitate an old freezer roast)
Wednesday: Easy Lasagna
Thursday: spaghetti with meat sauce
Friday: Ham and Potato soup
Saturday: Shepherd's Pie (using leftover roast)
Sunday: leftover soup
The few minutes (or hours) it takes for me to plan out a week's worth of suppers is worth it. I'm not sure I want to think about how long it would take to plan out a whole week of meals if I were including lunches and/or breakfasts though!