I put off menu planning for a long time. A long time. Had I known how much a ten minute exercise would save me in the long run I never would’ve started so late.
Does it work everyday? Almost always. Plans change or things come up, so you need to be flexible, but for the most part menu planning is a tiny bit of brilliance.
• Your grocery bill will go down. Once you have meal planning down, you’ll notice you have more control of your shopping too. There are no sudden trips or duplicate buying. Most of my spending is on more perishable foods like produce or dairy. The bulk of my ‘shopping’ is from my pantry and freezer.
For instance, next week, I plan to take out one of the frozen turkeys I picked up for sale last November. Greg loves turkey, and this will provide many future meals.
• It’s healthier. You control how much fat or calories to allow. When meals are planned there is less snacking while you get the main course out.
• You can plan meals around the weather. In Texas, spring is unpredictable. One day the heater is on and the next it’s the air conditioner. I always check the weather forecasts to see what the week will bring. If it’s on the chilly side, I plan for a soup or stew. If it’s going to be hot, I try to use the oven less.
• You don’t have to be very specific. If it makes it easier for you, sort it by broader terms. You can have Mexican, Italian, or Chinese nights. Or you can go by type such as stew, soup, or casserole night.
• Allow for eating out once in a while so no one feels like the sacrificial goat on the altar of saving money.
I used to worry I’d give up on menu planning, but forcing myself to post it every Sunday has kept me accountable. Maybe no one at all looks at my menus, but I do, and it keeps me organized. We don’t argue about what’s for dinner because the decision was already made.
How far in advance do you plan dinner? Do you think your family eats out too much? I know we did, but it’s much more manageable now.
If I have any complaints it’s that I’m left with the majority of cooking responsibility. Greg helps (sometimes) but usually it’s just me, and that can be a lonesome job.