Friday, July 31, 2009

Menu Planning and Saving Money

Courtney from Homemaker Hero asked me to guest post for her. I hope you enjoy this post about Menu Planning and perhaps feel encouraged to try it for yourself, if you do not already do it :) And, please, take a trip on over to Homemaker Hero to enjoy Courtney's money saving advice, cute decorating ideas and many more things she shares :)

Do you plan your menus for your family meals each week? Perhaps you should think about it if you don't. I truly believe this is one area within our budgets where many people can lose a lot of money-really waste a lot- if they do not plan ahead. It is simple to do and can help save you time, money and headaches.

I shop for my family's meals every two weeks. Usually, I try to plan my meals around sales and coupons that will give me the best deals. But, because I am planning for approximately 14 days worth of meals, I know there will not be enough sales out there for all 14 days. I know there are certain meals I make that are pretty inexpensive for my family of 7 and put those meals down first in my planner. Other days are left blank for those store sales I will encounter the week I go shopping. I also have learned to plan for our lunches and breakfasts. This has saved me from trying to scrounge up whatever I can in order for my kids to eat during the day-which, in all honesty has happened more than once!! YIKES!

One thing I did when I started menu planning was to think of all the meals my family enjoys. I wrote them down in the very front of my notebook for easy reference. As time has gone by, I have added new meals. I have over a month's worth of different meals, some very frugal, some a bit more expensive. If I am stumped on a meal, or see a special on meat, I will refer to that list and see what I can make during the week.

Do I adhere to a certain day for a certain meal-such as, Sunday-Pizza, Monday-tuna patties, etc? No, I really do not. That has never worked well for my family because we do not know if we will be in the mood for that meal on that day. But, if there is a day when I know we will be busy, I will mark that day down for an easy meal such as spaghetti or something in the crockpot.

But, how can this save you money? Think about how often you have run in the store needing one thing and purchased so much more than you intended! I remember one time we went for something for dinner. It was only going to be quick freezer pizza because we were tired and mom didn't want to cook-ugh! We came out with so many extras. What could have been a $10 bill for us was over $30!! That could have been gas later on in the week, or perhaps placed into savings for something else down the road! Or, for some, how far it is to travel to the store and the wasted gas. Plan your meals ahead of time and you can skip this extra trip!

How about those days you are tired and don't want to cook? Perhaps instead of heading to those Golden Arches, you will look through your menu plan for the week and cook something fast. Or, plan one day for leftovers from the other meals during the week-that has been a lifesaver for us here on days I am too busy to cook, or too tired. Plus, those leftovers are almost free food! How great is that?! Or, plan to cook extra of a meal that freezes well and have it on hand for those busy or tiring days. If you are used to eating out once a week, and instead, planned your meals, you could save yourself quite a bit of money! Try it for a month and stash that money in a hiding place...see how much you have saved!! I think you will be impressed!

Many bloggers are terrific at posting their weekly menu plans. You can check theirs out. And, once again, you do not have to plan in such a way that you must have that tuna casserole on Saturday night-just put it on your menu plan and have it the night it works best for you. Try a new recipe once or twice a month-it might quickly become a family favorite. There are many recipe sites out there-one of my favorite is

Being frugal in all areas of your finances is a job well worth it in the long end (or even short end ;) and I wholly believe it is a task God intends me to take on to bless my family and Him. Menu planning is one area where I really believe I have been able to save my family a lot!

No comments: