Creating a menu plan is a simple way to help save money at the grocery store and keep your household running smoothly and efficiently. As simple as it is, many of us still fail to create a weekly menu plan. And as the saying goes… “When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
The cost-saving benefits of creating a menu plan are numerous. You avoid takeout temptation by having ingredients on hand to create meals, there is less waste because you’re shopping for meals as opposed to buying individual ingredients, and not only that — you can plan your meals around coupons and what’s on sale at the grocery store to help save money.
Perhaps the biggest perk is simply knowing what’s for dinner ahead of time so there isn’t that 5:00 panic about what you’re going to eat that night. It helps calm the household chaos.
Here are some simple tips to make menu planning easier:
- Set aside a half hour each week to compile your menu plan. Allow ample time so you can complete your menu plan and grocery list from start to finish.
- Start with the following supplies: your recipe book or file, your family calendar, a pencil and paper record your menu plan, another sheet of paper to record your grocery list, your coupons, and grocery store circulars.
- Decide on a time-frame for your menu plan. If you’re new to menu planning, start with a weekly menu plan. If you’re more experienced or feeling ambitious, try a bi-weekly menu plan.
- Do a quick inventory of the contents of your refrigerator. If anything is close to its expiration date, work those ingredients into your menu plan first.
- Work leftovers into your menu plan (for example, if you are having rotisserie chicken one night, consider using the leftovers for chicken in fried rice the next).
- Consider cooking double batches – one to eat, one for the freezer. That way, you’ve got a head start on a future menu plan.
- Consult your grocery store ad and build your menu plan around what’s on sale at the store.
- Work high-value coupons into your menu plan to save money.
- Incorporate as much variety as possible so you don’t tire of eating certain foods.
- Look at your family’s calendar. Will you be gone or busy any of the nights of the week? For those nights, include a freezer recipe or crock pot recipe in your menu plan.
- If you are cooking more food than you can eat at one meal, plan a night to serve leftovers.
- Create a grocery list based on your menu plan and the ingredients you’ll need for your meals.
- Don’t forget to include items like snacks, breakfast foods, beverages and pet food on your grocery list.
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