Menu planning is essential for me as a stay at home mom who has to watch her budget carefully. I think that the following are critical components of menu planning:
1. Resolve to do it. That sounds easy, but it can be a difficult component because we all get busy. Life can take over and we can become complacent in our planning. I use this template for menu planner planning.
2. Establish a routine for it. Take one day a month for planning your family’s menu, inventorying your pantry, and making your shopping lists. Have a certain day to go grocery shopping. Make sure you review advertisements before you begin to do your meal plan.
3. Keep a list of “go to” meals for when time or your budget is tight. These can be meals that are quick and inexpensive to prepare. These should be meals that can be easily made from your pantry.
4. Keep a list of sharing meals. Those that you can make easily to share with another family in their time of need or at a church pot luck.
5. Rotate meals to avoid boredom. I use seasonal rotations when certain supplies are in more abundance and, therefore, are less expensive.
6. Appoint days of the week for certain types of meals. This has worked very well for me from a planning standpoint. For example, Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, Spaghetti Wednesdays, Turkey Thursdays, New Recipe Fridays, Soupy Saturdays, and Casserole Sundays, etc. I also schedule meals that take longer preparation times for the Shabbat. It is not rigid, but its nice to have sometime kind of guideline to use in planning your monthly meal cycle.
7. Post the meal plan. I post the meal plan on the refrigerator so that everyone can have access to it. Make sure your kitchen helpers know where to find it and most importantly designate someone to help in laying out the night before your ingredients.
8. Stock your pantry. Having a stocked pantry is key to saving money because you are less likely to have to run to store in between meal plans. Make a list of the items that you use regularly, including spices.
9. Use leftovers for lunches if possible. I’m a stay at home mom, so if I can plan to use leftovers for lunches I do because it helps with my grocery budget. Lunches can be costly if you don’t plan accordingly. Pre-made bento box style lunches, snack trays, and even homemade lunchables make quick go to lunch ideas.
10. Use a meal to make several meals from. This is easy if you are preparing poultry or beef. For example, with a turkey you can get at least three meals (basic turkey, turkey-n-dumplings, turkey casserole, etc.) Looking for these opportunities for meal expansion really bring savings to your grocery budget.
11. Take your meal plan with you grocery shopping. I take both the menu planner and grocery shopping list so that I can make changes to my menu planner in order to take advantage of any in-store this day only specials that may not have been advertised in the store’s circular. This gives you the flexibility to take advantage of great deals.
I pray this post has been of help to you in your role as helpmeet and mother. May these tips help you to look well to the ways of your household.