Importance of Menu Planning

by GettingFreedom on February 17, 2009

The latest post in my Finding Freedom Series, I went over 8 ways to Cut Your Grocery Expenses. One of those Top 8, was Menu Planning. In this post I will go over how I go about making our menu plans, and how that , in turn helps me to save money.

I used to menu plan when I worked outside of the home, but somehow I got out it and didn’t start back up until about a year ago. I used to always sit down with my mountain of cookbooks, and flip through them until I had filled up all the slots on my plan. While this method does work, it is very tiresome and time consuming.

I don’t know about you, but if it takes me forever, and it just isn’t easy..I’m not going to stick to it. Period.

Here are my easy steps to menu planning, you’ll be a pro before you know it!

  1. Ask all the members of the family what their favorite dishes are. If you can try to get them to name more than one. Make sure to include your favorites as well.
  2. Write down the recipes that have been on your ‘To Make’ list. This includes all those that you have bookmarked while surfing the internet.
  3. Use a calendar (I use this printable) and start throwing meals at the dates. Remember to keep in mind the appointments and activities that you have going on.
  4. Try to fill up as many dates as you can, that way you don’t have to meal plan every week. This saves a lot of time, and it will help you not look at meal planning as a chore.

It’s as easy as that! The first time you sit down and write out your plan, it may take a little time, but once you get used to it, it will be second nature to you and it won’t take long at all. Also, once your first plan is done, you can use it month after month just making changes to accommodate your activities and appointments or to add in the new recipes you have come across.

Additional things to keep in mind:

  • If you are planning more than a week at once, it is pretty safe to say that you can have the same meal more than once in a month. Keeping this in mind will help you not have to come up with so many different meals.

  • Some meals have leftovers, so why not schedule a Free For All one night a week to use up the leftovers. This will give the cook a night off, and use up those leftovers so they won’t go to waste.
  • As you are writing down your meals, write down the ingredients that you do not have on hand, but need on your shopping list. This way when you go shopping you will know exactly what you need for your meals. That way you won’t have to come up with another meal when you realize you don’t have everything, and you will avoid a last minute trip that will end up in buying more than you needed in the first place.
  • Post your menu where the whole family can see it. This way everyone knows what is for dinner, and it serves as reminder to you what you need to do to prepare for your meal.
  • On busy nights, have a crockpot meal ready. Crockpot meals have definitely come a long way, they are no longer boring! This will save you from deciding to eat out on a whim, since dinner is waiting for you. A definite money saver!
  • It is your plan, so make it work for you.

Knowing what you need for the weeks ahead saves time and money at the grocery store. You know what you are in the grocery store for because you have already planned your meals, and wrote down your needed ingredients. Your list is everything you should need for the week (after you finish filling in your staples/snacks/lunches/breakfast) so there is no need to stray from it, which will save you on impulse buys or the “I might need this for dinner.” You already know, because it is planned.

To see more kitchen tips, be sure to visit Tammy’s Recipes.

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