One of the key ways my family stays frugal.........drum roll please...........wait for it.........wait for it.........M-E-N-U......P-L-A-N-N-I-N-G! (said as Barney Stinson would say it)
Menu seems a rather daunting word at times but I really use it as the meal/dinner plans for your family for 1 week. That's right, I said one week. It is important that you have a plan for every night of the week. This will help you greatly in your grocery shopping, list making, saving money, and staying on target when at the store.
Did someone say Target? LOVE that place! They have such cute clothes....
Now what was I talking about? Oh yes, staying on task :-)
Make a plan! You do not have to be an expert chef to plan a weekly menu. Have you ever heard someone talking about their "meal rotation"? This is in reference to what they normally make for their family. Before I started weekly menu planning, dinner time would be an hour and a half away and I'd stand in front of the fridge and wonder how I could concoct a masterpiece out of an ear of corn, a can of tuna, and a piece of bread. Hey wait, I might be on to something here......focus, Lili, focus. I'm sure your family has weekly favs and you have those "go-to" recipes when you're in a pinch. Use these! You do not need to have chicken le cordon bleu, boeuf bourguignon, or any other impossible-to-pronouce french food nor would that really help on the total cost. Show me the money! You had me at hello :-)
Here's an example of my menu for this week:
WEDNESDAY--parmesan chicken strips
SATURDAY--dinner with friends
SUNDAY--spinach and tuna noodle casserole or leftovers (if there are enough)
Bam! There you have it. I don't plan out breakfast or lunch because those are usually meals we do on our own. Make sure you WRITE DOWN your list and put it somewhere you will see it. You have the freedom to change it up on those days the doctor appointment ran late, the kids never napped, or the plumber is STILL working on that toilet. The freedom that comes with meal planning is that with a plan the stress of dinner is alleviated. You know what your family will eat and you can plan your day according to that.
It's important to plan leftover nights into your menu as well. I hate it when I make something and then for whatever reason we forget to eat it throughout the week. All of a sudden I will get a hankerin' for that leftover spaghetti but when I pull it out of the fridge it's grown some "friends". What a bummer! Not to mention, money wasted.
As you get into the habit of weekly menu planning you can plan out 2 or 3 weeks at a time easily. I can't tell you how easy grocery shopping is when I have a pre-made menu and a list in hand of all ingredients I will need and won't need to make multiple trips to the store because I'm planning dinner on the fly. This also keeps me from wandering the isles and putting things in my cart at random. But that's another post altogether.
Your assignment should you choose to accept:
1. Look in your pantry/freezer and see how many meals you can plan with what you already have
2. Write down a week's worth of dinners and post it on the fridge (or anywhere you will see it)
3. Make a grocery list based on your weekly menu
4. Enjoy the fruits of your planning!
I believe that's enough for now. You can do it!