For a long time when planning my menu, I would scour my cookbooks, pick out some recipes, then make a shopping list with the ingredients I needed.
Now, I buy meat when it is a great price. I try not to pay over $1.99 a pound for any type of meat. I stock up when it is at a monumental low price. I also do that with other food and things.
I now have a good little stockpile. I pick my recipes based on what I already have. Sometimes I search the internet when I know I have some ingredients that would make something great together, but not sure of a recipe on how to do it. I have found some great meals that way. I really enjoy the challenge of doing my meal planning that way and love how it feels to know that it didn't cost much to make. I have also began to make more from scratch, when needed. It's usually not as tough as I previously thought.
I know this is not a new idea, but it is something that I have recently begun to do and it is really working well for me. Thought I would share! Check out Biblical Womanhood here for other great frugal ideas.