Sunday, September 29, 2013
Meal Planning 101
1. Sit down a make a list of recipes your family likes or of recipes you would like to try. My list generated 32 recipes as well as a few "new" recipes. Granted there are some variations on the list (tacos, enchiladas & spaghetti, lasagna, stuffed shells) - but there aren't any duplicates.
2. Dedicate time on your calendar to make your weekly menu. Thursday tends to be a good time - you can look at the grocery store sale flyers and generate your menu around meat or other items that may be on-sale.
3. Make a grocery list and check it twice. I live in the Southeast & two local grocery stores (Lowes Food & Harris Teeter) offer shopping online. You submit your order online, they shop the order, and you arrive at your pre-selected time to pick it up and go. They always call after they've shopped your order to see if you need to add any items. The cost is $4.95 per order. Some people think this is absolutely ridiculous. However, I've found that I stick to my list and actually spend less because there are no impulse buys. (and you can still use coupons!)
4. Keep a frozen pizza or other quick go-to meals in the cabinet just in case. There will be nights where the mountain of homework is unending or you simply don't feel good & it's quicker and easier to do a frozen meal. It's still cheaper than hitting a drive-thru.
5. Prep meals. I enjoy Sunday football but not all afternoon long. While super-husband enjoys the game, I spend a couple of hours meal-prepping. On average, I usually have 3 of 5 meals prepped for the week. When I get home, it's nice to preheat the oven and bake!
6. Why do I only plan meals for Mon - Fri? We have one "eat-out" meal per week and it tends to be Saturday or Sunday. Some weeks we have leftovers and don't always go through the 5 planned meals so I prepare one of those on Saturday or Sunday if needed.
7. How much do I spend? My goal is to keep our grocery budget under $100 per week; however, on average I would say I have been spending $125 per week. Understanding couponing is next on my list -- I've never done well at it or perfected the methods.
It's required a little more effort on my end - but the trade-off is well worth it. I feel more prepared at the beginning of the week (no thinking what's for dinner), we're saving money & we are eating out less. Do you have any meal planning tips?