Monday, October 8, 2012

Making A Meal Plan To Save Money

How many times have you opened the cabinets to only find you have NOTHING to fix for dinner? And then, $25 later, your family has a nice, unhealthy fast food meal sitting on the table? Don't pretend this doesn't happen and don't be embarrassed. Because it happens to the best of us.

But what if you had been prepared? You could have slapped out a few hamburgers yourself with a bag of Ore Ida spuds on the table for less than half the cost. Or better yet, a nice baked chicken meal with veggie sides to balance out a healthy diet could have been in the making in as near as much time as that trip to King Burgers.

So, grab your calendar and kids and pile around the table. Ask your kiddos what THEY want to eat for dinner throughout the month. Let them pick where it goes on the calendar. TRUST ME! They are going to get a kick out of telling you what you are going to prepare. Fill the calendar dates up, remembering to include left-over nights and even splurge a time or two through the month for pizza or fast-food burgers.

Next, make a shopping list of the things you are going to need to prepare those meals. Are you going to need chicken? If so, how much? There's spaghetti so don't forget the pasta, sauce and bread. Go through each day listing your ingredients and quantities. Now, that you have your list, you get to shop!!! This will be a process, so be patient. You may just want to pick up this week's food BUT if you see one of the items you'll be preparing in the upcoming weeks on sale for a great price, go ahead and grab it. You'll free up budget money for the rest of the month. Soon, you'll have a month's supply of food in your home and be able to start stocking things when they are are sale rather than when you need them. See the benefit yet?

Here's a picture of our family's October meal plan.

Click to enlarge

Notice we put important events like football and church on the calendar so we know what kind of meals to place on these days. We need something fast to get out the door on time. You will also see that sometimes I change my mind and move things around. Remember, this is a GUIDELINE! You can make changes according to your family's needs and desires at the time. The point is to not open your empty cabinets anymore only to get a wallet that matches.

When our calendar is complete, we hang it on the refrigerator next to the school lunch menu. The kids know what's coming up tonight and also hold me accountable so that I don't back out of cooking.

A good plan will always save you time and money. So don't wait!

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