Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Feeding Your Family on a Budget, Part 2

Menu Planning I know many people will cringe when I mention this, but it truly does help in saving money. Not only will you be organized enough to have something out of the freezer and thawed so you can cook, but you will eat out less often because you won’t have to think about what to make for dinner come 4 or 5 o’clock and then just grab something from a restaurant because you don’t have time or can’t think of something.

Menu planning can be done in a few different ways—weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, rotational, or themed.

I do a weekly menu. After I go grocery shopping, I sit down and make a weekly menu from what I was able to purchase. This allows me to take full advantage of what I could find on sale, pull out of the garden or what was given to me. I do have a few things that I usually keep in the same slots because they are family favorites and/or easy to make, but even those are not set in stone.

I know some people who create a bi-weekly menu because they go grocery shopping every two weeks. I am transitioning into this because of gas prices and switching to bi-weekly shopping to save the gas money. The same reason applies for a monthly menu.

Some people choose to create a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly menu and then just repeat that same menu over and over again. I have heard of people that have a summer menu and a winter menu as well. For example, if it is a weekly menu, then every Monday night might be tacos, Tuesdays—spaghetti, Wednesday—roast chicken, etc.

Another option is to make a themed menu. For example, Meatless Mondays, Mexican Tuesdays, Slow cooker Wednesday, Italian Thursdays, etc. You would then have your recipes in those same categories and it would give you a smaller repertoire to choose from. I use a form of this in my menu planning as well. For example, Wednesdays are one-pot meals because we eat at the church and then I only have to carry one thing and Sundays are slow cooker meals because then it is cooked and ready for us to eat when we arrive home from church.

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