This simple little tip is probably one of the bigger money savers. And for me, one of the hardest! I have a huge stockpile so I don’t usually buy food by what I need but mostly just what’s cheap to replentish my stock. I also think this one is hard for everyone because we tend to cook by what we are hungry for that night.
But even having some kind of plan to start off with helps! I always feel like anytime I say, “What should I fix for supper?” I’m not only wasting time but I usually end up grabbing something quick and not as healthy.
There are a few ways to make a good meal plan. Some will create their plan completely around what’s on sale. Others will create it solely based on what they have on hand. I tend to do a little of both. I’ll check the ads to see what the best deals are out there and get some menu ideas. And then I check to see what I have and then make a list of the little things I may need to complete those meals. I usually try to go with meals that have the fewest missing ingredients that are on sale!
In order to have a good meal plan, you need to figure in your weekly events. Have an early soccer practice and need a quick meal? Don’t plan a 45 min. prep-time meal that night! And don’t forget to figure in that night for leftovers. I’ve gotten in the habit of doing that on Thursdays since our garbage day is Friday. This way, anything that I know won’t be eaten goes into the trash and doesn’t sit around all week! (Though, my overall goal is always, no waste!)
The nice thing about meal plans is it also gives your family a “heads-up” on what to expect for dinner. I know some of you have families that never seem to like the same thing. Try allowing everyone one day, whether each week or month, where they get to choose the meal that night.
While I do miss a week or two doing this, I do have to admit, all the weeks that I get this done…they tend to be so much less stressful on me. I do my planning and I don’t have to think about what to cook for another week. I just pull out anything needing to be defrosted the night before and off I go the next day at suppertime or morning if I am crockpotting.
For those of you needing more info on how to plan a menu, click here. Need a little inspiration, check out the weekly Meme here called “Meal Plan Mondays.” She also has a FREE Menu Planning template here.
Having a menu plan helps you use what you have on hand and keeps you from ordering take-out because you didn’t plan out what to have for dinner that night. Both of these things equal $avings! And it really doesn’t take that much time!
Hope this one helps. Tune in tomorrow at 9AM for Tip #3.