The increasing cost of food coupled with parents and children becoming involved in more after school and evening activities often result in parents feeling at a loss as to how keep on top of evening meals and we take a look at how to save money with menu planning, to get the most from your time spent preparing. Taking some extra time every couple of weeks to devote to a specific menu planning strategy will give the household chef more control over the pantry as well as help the family to spend more wisely.
Plan a Household Menu: Make a Meal List
Take half an hour or more with the family to brainstorm all the meals each family member enjoys, this is not only going to save money with menu planning, it’ll ensure your family really appreciate your efforts still, and doubly so with the free money to treat the kids. Include everything from favourite foods to fast foods to five course dinners. At this point it is important to not veto anyones choice. All choices go on the list regardless of how many other people agree with a choice. The one in the picture is really super simple and although it looks fancy there’s really not a lot to this:
The recipe thanks to lovepotatoes.co.uk:
1 Pork tenderloin
50 g Baby spinach, 10 Cherry tomatoes, 4 Garlic clove ,1/2 Lemon, juice of, 400 g Potatoes, smooth, 1 tsp Thyme, fresh or dried
2 tsp Tomato puree
Baking & spices
1 tsp Paprika, 1 tsp Paprika, smoked, 1 Red pepper, Oils & vinegars, 4 tsp Olive oil
If you look at this list you’ll see not a lot of perishables here so brilliant to save money with menu planning.
Shopping List: Decide on Duration of Menu
Think about how long the menu plan should last for. Are there enough meals listed to stretch over a two week or four week period before repeating? The longer the menu plan lasts for, the more variety the family will have in their meals during that time. If only seven meals end up being listed in the first step, the menu plan should repeat every 7 days.
Save Money With Menu Planning: Assign a Theme to Each Day
Designating a specific theme for each day of the week will make it easier for the chef to designate meals to a particular day. Take into consideration any days that are extremely busy and days that certain family members are not available. Quick and easy meals could be assigned to busy days and smaller meals assigned to days when only one or two people are home. Make use of nice serving trays and reflective glasses to enhance the wow factor of your food. Please take a look at the image attached. It’s only cheese and biscuits:
This is a great tip to save money with menu planning.
A sample menu theme could be as follows:
Wednesday: Heat and serve casseroles (kids sports activities all evening)
Friday: Fast, Fried or Fish
Saturday: Cooks Choice (could be anything from leftovers to new recipe’s)
Sunday: Five Course Family Dinner
Here’s a look at a simple cottage pie. I won’t list the recipe for this, you’ve got your own no doubt:
The chef then divides the meals from the list into the categories assigned to each day. As in the example above, all chicken dishes would be assigned to a Tuesday, any casserole type meals would be assigned to the Wednesday and foods that fit into the categories of fish, fried foods or fast to make would be assigned to Friday.
Save Money With Menu Planning: List All Meal Ingredients
At the start of each menu rotation sit down and write out all the ingredients needed for each meal. Then go through the pantry, cupboards and fridge and cross out anything you already have that will last until you make that meal and you’ll get the most from each shop, this is exactly how you’ll save money with menu planning. Transfer all remaining items from the first list onto a new sheet of paper.
Shop By Food Category
Preparing the shopping list by categorising your food items as the shopping stores do will make the shopping much easier. Divide the list up into sections as follows:
- Snack Foods
- Household Items
Place the ingredients from the list into the appropriate categories. This will decrease the amount of time spent revisiting aisles.
Shop In Bulk
For those who have a few extra dollars that can be spent on groceries, it will save money in the long run to buy extra when items are on sale or available in bulk quantities. This should be done on a regular basis if possible so that a small storage of non-perishable food items can be built up in case money is short at a later date.
Post the Menu List
After the shopping is complete and all items are put away, the chef should post the menu in a place where the family can see it. This way family members are aware ahead of time what meals are coming up and the chef is able to make any preparations the night before without having to spend hours wondering what to make.
This method of menu planning and shopping will ensure that families will have all the necessary ingredients for an entire menu rotation. Following this method reduces the number of trips to Tesco or Asda by limiting mid week trips to the buying of perishable items. In this way, impulse buying is reduced and families will save money with menu planning.
Conclusion and Ideas
Left overs you can feed to your pets. I have made an interesting post on decorating for pets as well. Would be a great read. I’ve left to last – we aren’t all pet lovers!