How a menu can save you money

menuplanning101For any size family saving money is something I’m sure we all can do!  Here at our house I’m constantly looking for ways to pinch pennies.  When it comes to making meals there is a great deal that you can do every week to save some money!

First realize that eating at home is a BIG money saver.  We all know that cutting out the expensive trips to fast food and your local chain restaurants helps tremendous with saving money.   It’s really a no brainer to realize that cooking at home will be healthier in most cases and make your food budget stretch a lot farther.

Easy way to plan a menu:

Menu planning is something that doesn’t have to be super complicated.  For me, I’ve done a menu for many years and I have done it a number of ways, from a month schedule to two week schedule to currently a weekly schedule. As you do this you will find what works best for your family.

  • Start by looking at your week and see what kind of appointments, activities, or events you have going on.   On the days that it looks like it’s going to be busy, plan dinners that you can do in the crock pot or more simple meals.
  • Once you figure out your schedule it’s time to figure out what you already have at the house.   Take a good inventory of your frozen meats, can goodes, pastas, etc.   I try to always use what I have at the house first and then try to piece together a meal from there.
  • After you have a good list of the items you already have, it’s time to start plugging in basic dinner meals.   Make a master list of all the usual dinners your family eats and start rotating meals that fit the day according to your schedule.   Remember there are going to be days you might have to switch a meal around to a different day but, it’s better to know ahead of time what your going to feed your family.
  • Now after your done making up the menu, that is the time you make your grocery list of the extra items you don’t have to make up these dinners.  (remember to shop those sales!)

By setting a side a time to make a menu it helps:

  • take the guess work out of what your going to make that evening (helps with stress)
  • reduces the number of trips to the grocery store (the more you go, the more money you spend)
  • saves gas (less trips to the store)
  • saves valuable time
  • gives you time to be creative
  • frees you up to do other things
  • eliminates last minute rush to fast food or local restaurant

Ways to plan a menu:

Like I’ve said before I’ve done menu planning in all different ways.  From a month at a time to now just a weekly menu.  The reason I switched to a weekly is because I can plan better for just a week at a time.   I know what needs to happen that week and what appointments or events that I need to work around.  (it works for us!)

You can either take a regular spiral notebook and do it week by week.    You can also print out a blank monthly calendar, put them in a 3 ring binder and fill in the days with the meal that you have planned.  This allows you to keep track of what you’ve eaten from the week before.  I’ve done this method for a number of years.

food10

Here’s a glimpse of a monthly schedule I did a few years back

Last and not least you can print out a weekly menu like the one below and after you fill it out put it on your refrigerator or put in a notebook so you can keep track of what you all had last week or the week previous.  I don’t know about you, but I like to rotate a number of meals so we aren’t eating the same thing all the time.   I try my best to switch it up and even set aside a couple of days where we try a new recipe!

Below here you can find a free weekly menu printable.   Remember you don’t have to be fancy!  The main purpose is to start planning meals out so it starts to save you money! (no more running out to the store a hundred times or to get pizza)

How do you menu plan?   How do you save money each week with your grocery budget?  I love to hear others ideas!  (please share in comments below)

For a free weekly menu to get your started, click the picture below!   

menuplanning

 

 

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