Last week, we talked about the importance of establishing a grocery budget. This week, I want to share with you about menu-planning!
Take a look at the graphic below. I hope it makes sense (it’s how I see things in my mind!!). First, you are going to establish your grocery budget! Once you’ve done that, you will use menu-planning, stockpiling, and coupons to stick within your budget (or even lower it)!
I’ve found people are very interested in coupons, but when I talk about menu-planning, they want to skip it! However, I believe you need all three (coupons, stockpiling, and menu-planning) to make a serious dent in your grocery budget!
Here are a few tips:
1) Don’t make it difficult.
You don’t have to make a five course meal every night! Pick some of your easiest dishes or check out 5 Dollar Dinners for inspiration!
You can see my meal-planning form here. For us, breakfast and lunches are easy — cereal, smoothies, oatmeal, leftovers, soup, sandwiches. I spend a little more time planning our dinners (and my magnetic menu plan is very helpful for ideas)!
Remember, you don’t have to write down every single thing you are going to eat: however, I do encourage you to at least write down a general outline. The simple act of writing it down gives you a reminder and helps you be prepared (so you don’t end up ordering take-out or going out to eat)!
2) Plan your meals around what you already have in the house and what is on sale at the store!
First, look through your cupboards to see what you have on hand. Then, look through your grocery ads and jot down some ideas for meals using the low-priced sale items (meats, veggies, etc.). Make your menu utilizing low prices at the store and products you already have! (Stockpiling is huge here, and but we’ll dive into that next week).
3) A menu plan isn’t set in stone!
Just because you pencil something in, doesn’t mean you have to make it! I’m sometimes a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of person! Some days, meatballs just don’t appeal to me. Sometimes, we go somewhere and don’t get back in time to make whatever I have on the menu. When that happens, I just switch my dinner ideas. I also try to have two super easy meals on hand (or in the freezer) at all times!
Don’t let this overwhelm you! Your beginning goal with menu-planning is to have all the ingredients you need for a week’s worth of meals. Once you get in the habit, it will become pretty easy and second-nature! You’ll have a plan instead of always wondering “What’s for dinner?”!!