Thursday, October 3, 2013
Why and How I Meal Plan...
Planning meals can save you a lot more money than you may think! No more: "Oh no! I forgot to thaw something", or "I couldn't decide, let's just order a pizza." Or any restaurant for that matter. It's always way more expensive than preparing a meal at home. And when you make your food at home, you never have to worry about what's going into it.
I try to plan our meals at least one week at a time, more if I know we have a lot going on. That way I can just get up in the morning, look at my meal plan and get whatever I need to out of the freezer. If I am feeling ambitious and I remember, I might even do it the night before.
If you don't yet have a stockpile, your meal planning strategy will be a little different, and you will have to purchase a little more. But just feel free to adjust this system to suit your family's needs. This is just what works for my family, and I hope that this will give you an idea of how to go about starting this process and make meal planning a habit.
Step One: Get out a blank sheet of paper and write the dates for the next week down the left side. I skip four lines between each day: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Dessert.
Step Two: Go to your freezer, fridge and pantry or cabinets. Take stock of what you already have on hand and start with that. Use everything you can for your meal plan for the week. Then take a look at your local sales ads, choose things that are on sale for a great price and if you have coupons even better.
Step Three: Make out your shopping list. Be sure to include everything you need to prepare each meal on your plan. As well as any snacks and beverages. And be extra careful to make sure you include your basic staples, such as milk and butter, depending on your family's needs. For example: My family goes through about three gallons of milk per week.
I try to only go to the store once a week. You should also keep an easy emergency meal on hand. This should be something that doesn't take a lot of effort or time. My go-to favorite is french toast with sausage links or bacon. I have a griddle, so I can usually make this in less than half hour, including having enough left over for my husband to have for lunch the next day.
I make desserts at least once per week, usually more as it depends what I make as to how long it lasts. For example: A cake will last all week, whereas I'm lucky if cookies last two days.
It's important to include everything you plan to eat for the week. Otherwise, not only will you not be able to stick to your meal plan, but you will also blow your budget. In just a few short weeks, meal planning will be so easy and quick for you to do, plus you will start seeing how much you really can save. Especially if you coupon too. Remember you can change this to suit your family and lifestyle.
Have a great day! Happy Menu Planning, and as always Happy Couponing!