I was never a big menu planner until recently. I would halfheartedly try to think about what we were doing to eat for the upcoming week but I never stuck to any real menu plan. This led to a lot of eating out and wasted food. When my husband and I decided to get a handle on our finances, one area I wanted to focus on was cutting our grocery bill. Enter the menu plan. There are many blogs/sites out there dedicated to menu planning. I love the tips and links on I'm an Organizing Junkie. I try to post our weekly menu here to give myself some sort of accountability but I don't always get to do that. Even when I don't post it, I still am planning! Each Sunday I plan out what we will be eating for each meal for the upcoming week. This is a bit different than what I used to do. When I did try to plan our meals, I only focused on dinners. Now that two of my boys need lunches pack, I include lunch and breakfast in the plan. I take into account all of our evening obligations, whether I or my husband are going to be absent from dinner time or if we need a quick meal. I also account for any school lunches my children want to buy that week. *
*An aside note here: I realize purchasing school lunches may not always be frugal but for some reason, I hate packing lunches. I will be the first to admit I do the happy dance when I realize someone is buying lunch and I don't have to pack them one!
I limit breakfast to a choose of two items and I keep in mind what I know my boys like. Mornings are a bit too hectic to try new food so they stay pretty constant with either toast, cereal, bagel, or pancakes. Lunches usually consist of a main food item, fruit and/or veggie, a yogurt, and a dessert item. I also include a snack for their midmorning break at school. They purchase snack milk each day. My husband is easy to pack for; soup, veggies, granola bar and a fruit. I won't even begin to try and explain my lunches. At this point I am trying to follow a low/no gluten diet for health reasons.
Dinners tend to be very basic in our house. I don't have the time to prepare complicated meals. Each dinner tends to be be a main food, side dish of some sort of carb, fruit and veggies. Nothing too exciting or adventurous but it works for us.
Here is our plan for this week:
Breakfasts: Choice of chocolate muffins, cereal, or toast
Lunches: cheese and crackers, leftovers, salad, or soup
London broil, onions, veggies, Annie's Mac and Cheese for kids
Roasted Chicken, mash potatoes, cut up apples, salad
Pancakes and Sausage
Marinated Chicken breast, cheddar and onion muffins, veggies
I think that there are a lot of positives in utilizing a menu plan each week. No more waiting until the last minute to realize the meat need for that night's meal is still in the freezer. We don't eat out as much and I feel we are saving money in the long run. There are many people who plan their meals based on what they already have in the cupboards. This way, they can really slash their grocery bill. Check out this post explaining how to do this. I am not there yet but some day I want to be! Happy Planning!