I have tried meal planning, and when DH was home, it worked REALLY well for us! I do feel like I saved money too! I would usually do 1 week at a time, otherwise I would get overwhelmed. What I wouldn't do, is say "on Tuesday we WILL eat this:______" I just made 7 dinner meals on our shopping list and then we ate them through the week as we felt like it
I would watch the sale ads and do my best to plan my meals around the sales, that helped even more!
Another thing I would do, is I would try to buy roasts (big ones! when on sale) and then I would try to prepare two different meals with them-- I.E. pot roast meat, I would make a traditional serving of pot roast. But then I would also use the other half of the roast for the next night and serve it with gravy and rice or something, just something a little different. With pork, you can serve it as pork slices the first night and then make easy pork fried rice the second night, kwim? Something else you can do with big roasts is freeze the left overs. I made a HUGE BBQ roast in my crock pot the other day (pulled the meat and BBQ'd) and saved the left overs, I have TWO huge containers of left overs. When my parents would make it they would leave it un BBQ'd and my mom would use it on fajitas!
So anyway, that kind of got off track, but none the less, meal planning for me and my family seemed to save money
Pamela ♥ Tanner
Jacob James:10/17/09 @ 5:58 am/ 5.13 lbs 19"(37w2d)
Aubree Olivia: 6/24/11@ 10:31 pm/ 8.3 lbs 19" (38w4d)
My husband and I used to meal plan and it saved us money. On top of it we couponed and watched the sales and that helped determine what we would eat that week.
We did our meal plan different than Pam. We actually wrote out what night was what. That way my DH knew what to take out of the freezer the night before. And it helped with time management. We would base our meals on our schedules. We got really side tracked last year with me going back to school so we need to get back on it. I can say it really does help in the saving department.
Daughter Rileigh Ann arriving January 2012
I planned out a week and a half worth of meals and I put on what day we would eat what. DH seems to like it. That way we know what to get out for dinner since there is no quessing and he also knows what to fix the kids for breakfast or lunch if he happens to be home. Good idea with the roast things. DH is a meat cutter so I'll have to get with him on what is a good deal for the week. Thanks for the tips ladies.
Meal planning is the only way I can survive, otherwise it's 5:30 and I have no idea what to cook for dinner. I'll plan out for about 5 days and I try to keep at least 1 fast/easy dish for nights I'm tired or don't have time.
One great way to keep money down is to go through your freezer and pantry and see what needs to be used up. I have to do this regularly.
I love leftover roasts. Our favorite is to shred the beef (or buffalo since that's what we usually have) and then pour taco sauce over it and heat. It make fantastic burritos. It's also good with BBQ sauce and you can wrap it in tortillas with some cheese, rice, and/or beans then fry for a couple minutes on each side to brown and stick it together. Yum!
I menu plan much like Pam. I make a list of meals that will usually last a month at a time but I don't assign a meal to a day. Instead I just look at my list and pick what we are having the next night so I know what to take out of the freezer. My list is actually a chart so I have a column for chicken, beef, casseroles, italian, mexican, etc. and list meals in each column. When we are short on money I make a list of everything I have in my cupboards and freezer and figure out what I can make out of it and then just buy what I need to complete the meal. We are working on cleaning out our cupboards and freezer now because my husband just had surgery and isn't working for a couple months. I also bake muffins, cookies, breads, etc. and freeze. I cook and shred chicken and freeze it to use in soups, sandwiches, and mexican dishes. I cook several pounds of hamburger and make BBQ, taco meat, lasagna, etc. and freeze. This saves lots of time too.
Tammy & Tom 6/19/2004
TTC beginning 3/2005
Angel Baby 11/13/2008
Ethan Bradley 10/7/2009
I've always done meal planning, though I have off weeks. We both get paid fortnightly so I grocery shop fortnightly too. If I didn't plan we'd always run out.
I make a list of meals against days but it is flexible. If I had planned a chicken meal for tonight that requires a lot of effort and I am tired then I will swap it for an "easier" chicken meal from the list.
When I plan I usually flick through cook books for inspiration with my shopping list beside me. I pick a variety of meals using different meats and different amounts of prep / cooking. When I put them against the days I mix them around so we don't, for example, eat chicken three nights in a row. I also work out what meals I can make out of leftovers and which can be frozen and work that in to the plan as well.
It doesn't always work. Sometimes time gets away from me and the plan falls through. It definitely saves us money though.
Tammy/Pam, I love the idea of making a chart for one month worth of meals but not specifying what is on what day. I really might give that a try.
I, too, am on a tight budget so I do a lot of coupon cutting these days. I can't believe how much I save and could kick myself for not doing it earlier. I also buy meats in bulk when on sale and then freeze portions in the freezer. This helps the budget immensely!
Drake (9 )
I started meal planning consistently recently and it definitely saves money. I figure out what I have on hand first, then plan my meals accordingly, also looking at what is on sale that week. That way I only buy what I absolutely need for the week. The exception being if there is a big sale on meat, I'll go ahead and buy extra and freeze it for later.
Pam - I loved your idea for using leftover roast meat! Pull it and add BBQ sauce in the crock pot to make BBQ beef/pork! Brilliant! Thank you because I was trying to figure out what to do with my leftover roast meat from tonight!