Menu Planning is one of the ways I save money. Over the years, I’ve gone from planning weekly to bi-weekly to monthly and back to bi-weekly. I started menu planning right after I got married and was heading back to the classroom in the fall. I loved the idea of knowing what we were going to eat for supper every night and if I got home late, my husband would start cooking for me. Believe it or not, money had nothing to do with me menu planning at that time.
Menu Planning and How it Saves Money
For our family, I don’t plan for breakfast and lunch. My husband is the only one to eat breakfast so I cook what he likes to eat every morning: eggs, bacon, and grits. For lunch, my son and I eat a sandwich or leftovers. Because of this, menu planning doesn’t take long for me, just about an hour or so.
When planning, I have a couple of meals that are always on the list - pizza and a pasta. The rest of my planning is according to the sale ads from the grocery stores. This is where the savings comes in, I don’t plan for foods that are not on sale. There are times when this is not the case, so I check my Master Meal Plan to find a frugal meal idea.
One day a week is always the FYOF day (Fix Your Own Food). This is a day of leftovers or sandwiches and it gives this cook a break from preparing a meal and it helps to clean out the refrigerator on top of saving money on a meal every week.
I created my own monthly calendars for my planning. The calendar hangs on my refrigerator so the family knows what is on the list. If you are an email subscriber, you can download your own free copy of these calendars. Anything will work for planning. I’ve used a legal pad and an actual calendar that my husband picked up from our insurance company for free.
I used to love planning a month in advance but soon realized planning according to the sale ads helped us with our grocery budget and I dreaded all the erasing I had to do.
How I menu plan:
I created a Master Meal Planner that I use to help me in deciding what meals are being served without serving the same old thing every week.
Using the sale ads, I double check meats, fruits, and veggies. This is when the Master Meal Planner comes in handy. I go through the ads and look at the planner to see which meals I can serve.
For each meal, I write out all the ingredients needed on paper. This is so I don’t forget an item and I know how many I need. I quickly check the pantry and frig for any items I need to purchase and highlight what's needed.
When I’m back home from the store is when I fill out my calendar for the next two weeks. I do this, because of where I live the stores are unpredictable and I may have to change a meal. If this happens, I usually go a very quick and frugal route – breakfast foods.
And that’s it! I find when I’m prepared with my list, I don’t spend more unless there is one of those you gotta buy to stock up unadvertised deals.
Do you menu plan? If not, what are you waiting for?
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