Meal planning can be a time-consuming job, and often times, this is why we just give up on it and just go get whatever looks appealing at the store and be done with it. I know from experience that this leads to wasted money, extra trips to the store, frustration and cooking boredom.
So what's the solution? The solution I came up with was pre-planned three-day menus complete with shopping lists. This way, I'd only have to do the work once for a given menu, then from there on, that menu would be hassle-free. This method also allows me to work in new recipes.
Meat is usually the most expensive part of the shopping list, so this is why it is the biggest factor in my menu planning. On a given week (I like to shop weekly for the sales to save money), there is usually one or two different meats* on sale that I'll buy for the good prices. This is why I make my menus for three days. I can use the two sale meats* in my menu plan (I pick out two menus that include the two meats I'll be using). This ads up to six meals within a week. I don't plan 7 meals because we usually have at least one (usually more) meal per week with enough leftovers to make up for that one missing meal (and of course, there's always those nice days when we get to go out to dinner!). Maybe you or I will have leftovers after each meal and extend our shopping trips and save us money!
Here is the step-by-step instructions for making pre-planned, three-day menus:
You can organize your meal plans in a three-ring binder and section them off by meat. Obviously the more three-day menus you have, the better. Yes, this can be time consuming to begin with, but it is time well invested because later there will be hardly any work involved. When it comes time to go shopping, all you'll have to do is look up two appealing three-day menus that include your sale meats, write down the items you need from those and your basic shopping list, then go shopping.
* Note: If you happen to be a vegetarian, simply plan your meals around the produce sales.
Monica Resinger is a loving wife and doting mother of two who enjoys gardening, painting, dancing and homemaking. You can check out some of her other articles at http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Monica_Resinger
Take the Next Step
Share your thoughts about this article with the editor: Click Here
Sign up for our free weekly eNewsletter Surviving Tough Times.
Looking for an answer to a frugal living question? Click here to ask a
Dollar Stretcher Stretchpert!
Copyright 1996 - 2013 "The Dollar Stretcher, Inc." All rights reserved unless specifically noted.
Contact the Dollar Stretcher at:
PO Box 14160
Bradenton FL 34280
"The Dollar Stretcher, Inc." does not assume responsibility for advice given. All advice should be weighed against your own abilities and circumstances and applied accordingly. It is up to the reader to determine if advice is safe and suitable for their own situation.