Monday, February 27, 2012

What is Meal Planning?

Last week I started my new series on "Saving Money at the Grocery Store" and gave you a how-to-guide for making a price book.

Today, I want to offer another super practical way to save money each week at the grocery store:

 Create a Meal Plan

Meal planning involves planning in advance the meals your family will eat.  

Here are some questions people often ask about meal planning and my answers:

How often do you meal plan? Do you plan breakfast, lunch, snacks, & supper or just supper? 

First of all, some people meal plan each week while others plan on a bi-weekly or monthly basis. The decision is up to you. I like to plan my meals a week at a time so I can plan around the grocery store sales ads each week, but planning meals a month at a time saves a lot of time and money. 

I usually only plan suppers but I know a lot of meal planners who list everything their family will eat each day. I know that helps with grocery shopping and organization. For me, it's a tad stifling. I don't like all my meals planned out, but the decision is entirely up to you.

The point is that meal planning is supposed to make life simpler for you. So, how often and how many meals you plan is a personal choice.



Meal planning sounds time-consuming. How long does it take you to plan meals for the week?

Honestly, when I first started meal planning, it stressed me out a bit. I hated to think about what we'd eat every night because I felt like I was fixing the same recipes every week and I was bored. But when I tried new recipes, the children would balk, and I got frustrated fast. 

So, I started a running list of favorite recipes in my household notebook (or you could jot down recipes and page numbers in your cookbooks). That way when Sunday meal planning time rolls around, I simply pull out the list and make the menu for the week. I also ask my husband for input: What does he want to eat this week? What does he not want to eat?

Now, meal planning takes at most 30 minutes and as little as 10 if I'm not searching for new recipes.

Where do you find recipes?

I have a collection of cookbooks that I pull from on a regular basis. In addition, I like to find new recipes on Pinterest or one of the following websites:

If you aren't sure how to prepare a vegetable or a certain cut of meat that is on sale, look in the index of your cookbooks or online.

Plus, just because you always make meatloaf or hamburgers with ground beef doesn't mean you have to! There are multiple ways to prepare even basics like ground beef: Spice it up a little bit and try Hungarian Goulash or Moussaka. You never know: Your family might love it! 

Helpful Hints

When you meal plan, think about the events of the week, too. For example, on Thursday nights my husband and I attend a class together, and a sitter comes to watch the kids. Because Thursday nights are hectic, I try to fix something in advance, like a crock pot meal or casserole that I can pop in the oven right before dinnertime. That way while dinner is cooking, I can tidy up the house and prepare for our class.  

If you know you have a busy day, then plan an easy meal! This will keep you from opting for the more costly option: dinner out.

Do you menu plan? If so, what tips do you have?

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1 comment:

  1. I just started menu planning. I like to look for new recipe ideas on Pinterest.