I typically do my menu planning twice a month (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Crazy me, but it helps me to eliminate additional “impulse buying” that often occurs when I’m out! So, every other week, I sit down and plan my menu... sometimes it’s incomplete, but it gives me a good start. My grocery bill has been reduced greatly by doing this and by planning my Baking Days!
You can start Menu Planning at ANY level! You can start off small by just picking say, breakfast for each day of the week, and see how that goes. Or, if you’re feeling bold, try breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the week. Any little bit counts, and before you know it, you’ll find yourself looking forward to doing it and saving money!
Some key pointers in Menu Planning that I’ve found helpful are:
* Choose a few dishes with the same ingredients (especially when using fresh veggies, fruits, etc), so that you make the most of your ingredients and reduce waste.
* Plan around special events, etc. On days where you know things may run a little late, plan light meals for those day to make dinner easier. On days where you have some extra time to cook, plan a more elaborate meal if you’re feeling up for the challenge!
* Include the family in planning the menu! I also tend to ask my family to let me know what dishes they’d like to have over the coming weeks so that I can reduce the amount of wasteful eating/picking over foods! You picked it, you eat it!
* USE COUPONS!!!! For me, by planning my menu over a few weeks, I have time to scan various stores for my ingredients that I need, and are sale. Pair that with my coupons, and I’ve got A GREAT DEAL! This really does work, and can become a great tool to help maintain a budget and reduce unnecessary spending.
Good luck and Happy Menu Planning!