Saturday, May 14, 2011

So Simple... Meal Planning

   Meal planning is so simple and can save you a TON of money & time! We already talked about the benefits of Gathering Around the Table at Home vs. eating out. Now, we're going to take it a step further and plan ahead. This way you can make sure you are prepared & avoid going back to the store or eating out. 

 Think about the last few times you have eaten out... What was the reason? Most common reasons???
- Losing track of time & there's no time to cook
- Realizing you're missing an ingredient
- Having no meat thawed
- Not having enough items to make a complete meal.
It all comes down to not having a plan.

By having a plan, you will make sure that you will shop less, spend less & have a healthy, full meal that you will have time to cook & eat each night. A huge savings is by planning your meals according to what you already have & the current sales! If ground beef is on sale... Plan to have burgers or spaghetti. If you already have chicken & pasta... Plan to have alfredo. This way you're using what you have already paid for, so nothing is going to waste, & spending the least possible amount of money by buying what's on sale.

Here is my process:
  1. Take stock of what you have - List the meat, veg, sides, staples, etc. In the future it is easier to keep a running list of what you have. 
  2. List the sales - I'm already doing the work for you (Farm Fresh salesHarris Teeter page). Just write down the sales that are of interest to you.
  3. List your daily events - Sports, church events, parties to bring food to, company, etc... This way you can know how to best plan your meals. If you need to be at a game at 5pm you probably would rather have a heavy snack before & a crockpot meal to eat after. Or if you're having company, you'll want to make sure you have plenty for everyone.
  4. Plan & list meals - Plan all 3 meals & any snacks based on your schedule, what you already have & the current sales. This way you can avoid going back to the store.
  5.  Make shopping list - Make sure you list any ingredients needed for the meals. Ex: condiments, spices, etc. I suggest pulling out the recipe to double check.

   Meal Planning may sound difficult & time consuming, but I beg to differ. Can you think of 3 meals right now that you enjoy eating & preparing? There's 1/2 your week planned right there. A good idea is to make a list of every meal you can make and continue adding as you try new recipes. This way you will have an easy go to list to use when planning.

*All these things correspond with the post Gathering Around the Table... At Home. And for more ways to save look at the Start Saving page.


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