Monday, October 26, 2009

Menu Planning 101

I have found that having a weekly menu plan is essential to saving up to 90% on my grocery bill each week. (Click HERE for the current menu plan) By knowing what meals I will be serving my family each week, I can eliminate making impulse purchases at the grocery store. I plan my meals around items I have in my stockpile, as well as the current week's sales. For example, if chicken is priced at a SUPER low stock-up price one week, I will stock up on it so that I can use it for 3-4 months, but I will also plan a few meals that week so that we can enjoy the chicken while it's fresh. So, for that week I might have chicken quesadillas one day for lunch, chicken alfredo for dinner one night, and chicken fingers for dinner another night. By planning my meals I also get the added benefit of never having to throw away expired food! If I have something that's close to expiration, I make sure to incorporate that into my meals that week. It took me a while to get motivated enough to do menu plans, but now that I've started and realize how much more money I am saving, I don't plan on stopping! Feel free to copy and paste this list into a Word document, then make any changes you need to tailor it to your own family, then print it! Hang it on your fridge and viola! Now you have no excuses! :) By having it on your fridge, it makes it so much easier to reference and the family likes to be able to see it, too, so they know what to look forward to. Definitely eliminates the "Mom, what's for dinner?" which is really nice. Then, when the week is done, I file the menu plan away for future reference. For example, if chicken was what was on sale this week and I prepared multiple dishes using chicken, I would file it away under...yep, you guessed it! Chicken! Lol. Then, down the road when chicken is on sale again, I can go back and pull out all of my "chicken" files for ideas. Just a quick and easy reference. :)

Also, I never plan my meals for specific days, as I feel that the restriction gets me a little stressed out. It's easier to just plan 7 of each meal (breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, dessert) and whatever is easiest or most appealing on any given day is what we have! Don't forget to plan around your families schedule! If you know you have a football game to go to on Thursday night, don't plan a big fancy meal for that night. Make that the quick and easy meal night. Leave room for adjustment. Things come up, people run late, you know the drill. Being flexible allows you to not get overwhelmed. Just having these meals planned out ahead of time, though, will usually help take that stress away any way, as you're not frantically searching the kitchen trying to figure out what to throw together because everyone's "STARVING."

I hope this makes it a little easier for you to save your family even more money...


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