Does anyone do it? Do you have any tips? I'm needing to really scale back on our bills and I think it would greatly help if I menu planned.
I did for a little while, but really need to start again. It's hard because my hubby is a chef and often brings dinner for himself home, but I never know when so I have to try and make things he can eat the next night, but often end up throwing meals out
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
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.
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.
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!
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!
I've done meal planning 2 ways.
1- When I worked nights I would plan out the meals for the next week and cook 2-3 meals on Sunday night so DH just had to heat them up when he got home from work. He really appreciated not having to cook for himself and DD after working all day.
2 - Now, I plan all of our meals for the previous week so I am only making one shopping trip for what we need. I find we are saving a lot of money because we aren't running to the store several times for "just a few things" that adds up to $50! We sit down the night before I grocery shop and decide what we are going to have for the next week. Then, I see what I have and what I need and make my list from there. I don't plan which day we are going to have everything, just what. And then, I always build in a "leftover day" so there is one day a week I don't have to cook!
THANK YOU!! I've been wanting to create a schedule of dinners, but I'm kind of finicky in what I want, when . . . and it always seemed like if you were going to do it, then it included which meals were for which days.
I just need to get organized about a shopping list, so I have everything I might need on any given day, depending on what we feel like, and how much time we have! It's like an ephiphany! Maybe just work on 5 meals to select from - since weekdays are we have more of a problem . . . maybe it'll also help from feeling intimidated!
I've just started Menu Planning, and I could see a difference right away in terms of doing less grocery shopping and throwing away less food that had gone bad in the fridge! I've been linking up with Menu Plan Monday at http://orgjunkie.com, and it's a great place to get tips, meal ideas, etc. The biggest problem I've had is that my husband travels a lot from work, and I tend not to plan when he's not in town - I need to get more consistent about doing it all the time, even when it's just me and DS.
Those are some great tips. We have been doing great so far. DH really likes the menu planning so he knows what to get out. We have a big freezer in the shed so I end up buying for 2 weeks at a time. At the end of one week we go out to the freezer and bring whatever in. We also keep it flexible to some degree so that on nights something comes up we can change things around to suit us or in the morning too.
Thank you for that website. I might be in heaven since I'm an organizing junkie and organizing helps me relieve stress.
For my menu planning I keep a master list of every main dish I make on my IPOD touch. Every 2 weeks when my husband gets paid is when I do my shopping. At that time I go through my master list and put an asterisk next to the 14 meals I will plan to make in the next 2 weeks. I make my grocery list from there. That way I know I have the ingredients for enough meals and I can just choose any of the foods with an asterisk next to it for dinner each night.