Menu Planning-Getting Started
In today’s tough economy, planning and being frugal are more important then ever. Menu planning can be an important tool in your goal of frugal living. Menu planning doesn’t have to be complicated! Planning meals ahead requires a small investment of time, but can reap large rewards:
What is menu planning?
Menu planning is done by homemakers and individuals to create healthy and balanced meals for themselves and their families, during a certain time frame. Usually weekly or monthly.
How does menu planning help me?
Menu planning helps assist with budgeting. You make a grocery list from your menu choices, then buy only the foods you need. It helps with time management as well, since you know ahead of time what’s for dinner, so there isn’t any more of those frantic, 5 p.m. rushes of trying to figure out what to make. It’s also healthier and cheaper, because you’ll have all of your supplies and ingredients available, which will cut down on last minute drive through eating.
How do I get started?
Break into menu planning by starting small and simple. Slow and steady builds menu planning skills.
Start by scanning the current food ads for specials and sales. Make a rough draft menu plan: Seven dinner entrees and side dishes that can be made from weekly ad specials.
Look through your refrigerator and pantry. Are there any food items that need to be used up before they go bad? Make note of these items and see where you can switch or incorporate them into your rough draft menu plan. Also make note of any upcoming appointments, school games, etc. Plan on easy meals for those days, or ones you can make ahead of time, like crock pot recipes.
Now finalize your menu plan and make your shopping list from that menu. Take it with you to the grocery store and stick to it! Don’t be afraid to bend a little if you happen to find a fantastic mark down at the store though. Say your planning on making parmesan chicken breast one night, but find a large package of chicken leg quarters marked down super cheap. Then buy the chicken leg quarters by all means and use them in your recipe instead. Not only did you save on this weeks grocery bill, but you will already have a stock pile of chicken for another dinner next week!
Once you get home and put the groceries away, post your menu on the front of your refrigerator. Then all it will take is a quick glace in the morning to know what your dinner meal will be, and you can begin prepping by taking any meat out of the freezer to thaw if needed, pre-chopping some veggies, etc.
That’s it! You now have the basics of menu planning at your finger tips. It gets easier and easier to menu plan once you make a habit of doing it. Would you like to see what others have planned on their menus. Check out Menu Plan Monday at I’m an Organizing Junkie. You’ll find lots of ideas from other cooks, and maybe find some ideas to use on your own menu.