Thursday, July 1, 2010

Meal Planning

The key to successfully preparing fresh meals on a budget is planning. For me, this includes clipping coupons, shopping store specials and being a member of a warehouse club. I only clip coupons for items I already use and I’m not one of those amazing shoppers who can take their grocery bill from $100 to $.25 by using coupons, but I do save up to about $20 a week using coupons and more by shopping store specials.  I am also aware of prices at the warehouse club and watch my local grocery store for specials that advertise better prices than the club prices. It also requires that I plan a weekly menu.  My grocery store doubles coupons on Wednesday, so most of my planning and shopping takes place Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning. The whole process can take several hours, and there are weeks that my schedule doesn’t allow enough time and I either skip the warehouse club that week or I miss the double coupon day, but I always have a menu planned and try to stick to it.

Planning the menu is an ongoing process.  I keep a spiral notebook and list menu ideas as I come across them either from my own recipe collection or from recipes I come across in magazines or online. I take a lot of my recipes from and I have established a recipe file on that website. I try to have 6 planned meals each week, the 7th day usually being leftovers. I try to have a balance of meat, chicken, fish and pasta each week as well. Each week is planned around the family schedule.  For instance, in the winter, Monday is always soup night because our schedules require we eat a very late dinner at 7:30 and no one is home to prepare a meal. Some weeks are busy enough that several of the meals come from my pre-made meals in the freezer.  However it comes together, each week has a list of 6 meals, usually assigned to a particular day. At the end of the week, all the meals have been prepared, or there are a couple left over due to a change in plans.  THIS IS KEY...whatever meals are “leftover” start the menu list for the next week. This is important because I have already purchased the ingredients for these meals and if I don’t make them, the ingredients will potentially end up spoiling.

More on meal planning in future posts, but this is my basic approach...

No comments:

Post a Comment