I've started back menu planning and I'm amazed how much this has been helping our grocery budget. The budget just got out of hand over the summer months when we weren't watching. One night I sat down with the checkbook and a calculator determined to figure out where the money might have went. I found out quick that an unbelievable amount had went to the groceries (I'm too embarrassed to say just how much). Well, we are watching now!
Menu Planning has helped me as I've watched the grandchildren too. Some days I get so busy that my mind can't even begin to think about what's for dinner. I'm more prone to say let's just eat out if I don't think about it ahead of time. Really it's like having a cheat sheet for the kitchen. Everyone needs that.
I didn't grow up with a Mother who menu planned, so at first it seemed rather silly to me. She just cooked and it seemed that dinner was whatever she decided to make that day. That's not to say she wasn't efficient and great at budgeting She could save money like no one else I know. So, it's not for everyone but it sure has saved the budget for our home.
After being back on the menu planning routine for a couple of months again I've come up with 7 Tips That Will Help Make Meal Planning a Breeze!
1. Don't be afraid to be flexible and switch days if it makes life easier. If you just too tired and busy to make that fried chicken meal have Tuesday's taco meal instead.
2. Have take it easy days. My husband makes sure we eat out once a week so we put that in the budget. Our eating out doesn't mean a big fancy meal, it's usually a buffet if we can afford it or a fast food meal. If you can't fit that in your budget this week then a soup and sandwich day might help. Make it special by letting them pick out the can of soup they want.
3. Have leftover days! Why throw all that great food you've cooked away? Save it and either just warm it up or make it in to a new meal. Don't count on the leftovers though unless you hide them or make sure everyone knows not to eat them.
4. You don't have to make a gourmet meal every day. No one likes to spend hours in the kitchen. For instance, try breakfast for dinner. It's an easy and a frugal meal.
5, Post your menu plan on the refrigerator or someplace where everyone can see it. This makes it easy to look at it the night before plus there will be no more what's for dinner questions!
6. What's happening in your home this week? When you sit down to make your meal plan try to remember who's coming to dinner or what activities you have going that week. Make sure to schedule the easy meals on busy days. You can even let him have his hot dogs if pressed for time.
7. Let other people make dinner or at least help. Make sure to encourage and thank them. Then, when it's done make sure you tell them how good it is! They will be proud and want to help again. They will also start to appreciate the time and effort that you put into the meals you serve.