Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Meal Planning {the SeRieS} : Getting Started

Every family plans what they eat at each meal differently. Sometimes, it is decided what to eat the minute you are hungry OR your meal is thought out and planned in advance. If you are anything like me (Leigh Ann), then if it is not somewhat planned out, then I am likely to spend money and eat out somewhere. Please do not get me wrong, my family enjoys a good meal out every now and then, but we do try to limit ourselves to once a week. By doing so, it saves us money, but that also means I have to plan. I like to plan and organize, so I do not know why it took me almost 3 years of being married before I stared a thing called Menu Planning. What a novel concept?! A few friends and other blogs I read started talking about it and I thought I should give it a try and see if I liked it and if it worked for my budget and family.

Since I had our baby in the summer of 2008, we are now living on a single income, so planning out our budget and how much we spend on each category, such as food, is important to us. Planning out each meal also helps me not waste as much food, because I buy only what I need and also get creative to use what I have before it goes bad. All that said, I have decided to write a short series of posts on this topic because I think one long post would be a little overwhelming for people who have never attempting planning a menu.

10 Tips to Get Started:

1. Make this work for YOUR family.

2. Start with planning 1 week at a time.

3. Start collecting coupons if you do not already. Here are a couple ways:
-Sign up for your local paper for Sunday only if available.
-Print free coupons here from Coupon Mom.
-Link your Kroger card to P&G Saver.

4. Be flexible with what you buy.

5. Watch grocery ads that come by mail on Wednesdays. Look for meat sales and other good deals. Sales run from Wednesday to Tuesday each week. Go early in the sale period to get the meat, it will be gone quick.

6. Get your Kroger and CVS cards.

7. Make a list of meals you like to make for your family: breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.

8. Set your food budget. What does it include (i.e. paper towels, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, etc or just food)? Do you have a separate eating out budget?

9. Decide when you will grocery shop. Once a week? Once a month? Bi-monthly? Mixture (i.e. large shopping trip once a month and then weekly for only fresh foods)?

10. Decide where to shop. Multiple stores? One store? Which store will give you the most for your time and money?

I will leave you with that to think about today and start working on. I am in the process of planning my meals for October, so I will share that with you when I am finished.

Until then...Enjoy!


palermo-party of 4 said...

Great series! I know that I couldn't make it without menu planning now that I've started. Like you said, why did it take us 3 years to figure this out! I can't imagine having 2 children and not menu planning. It even makes breakfasts and lunches so much simpler. I started out by just planning dinners. Then I started planning breakfasts, lunches and snacks and it really helps a lot! I hope this will help others learn what works best for them!

creativelyhomemaking said...

Please let me know if the links are not working correctly. I had a friend tell me she was getting an error messages so I tried fixing them and think they are up and running now.

Here they are if not:

Connie said...

I am working on mine as well.

Thanks for your help, and we definitely need to get together soon.

Let me know when you have time.