There are a lot of resources available for menu planning and plenty of people writing tips on how to do it the best. These tips have worked for me and I find that I save a ton of time during the week and money. Help a sista out and share what you do below!
- I like to first take inventory of what I have frozen and what I have in my pantry. By taking a visual inventory I know what I shouldn’t buy and save money by not getting items that I already have plenty of. This is common sense, but it took me a while to see the benefit in a quick walkthrough of my pantry and freezer. Often I think, “oh I don’t feel like eating that this week”, but in reality, if I want to save money and not waste food I’ve got to find a way to incorporate ingredients I already have into the menu and that means getting creative.
- After my inventory, and if I have time I like to go through Pinterest for inspiration. This way I can pick 1-2 meals that I haven’t made before or not in a long time and it gives me something to look forward to. After picking my 1-2 new dishes I fill in the rest of the week with easy to make recipes that I can do quickly and without even thinking. This also keeps me from being too overwhelmed with having to read recipes each night and messing up the dish because I’m trying to rush and get dinner started. I also build in at least one night to eat out!
- After looking at my full menu I compare what I have and need at the grocery store. I try to pair my meals for the week with a few meals that I don’t need many ingredients for with ones that I will have to buy a lot for. This also saves me money. If I have to get a lot of ingredients for all of my meals, the bill can really add up!
- Lastly, I look for what’s on sale and improvise. Just because I saw something that looked great, that particular cut of meat or cheese that I have to have will be expensive that week, because that is my luck. Regularly you will see me back on Pinterest in the store because something is on sale and I want to find a way to use it for a meal.
- I try to buy a little more than what we will typically eat because I can use the leftovers for lunch, usually pairing the main dish with a salad. This makes my lunches easy to grab and go. Or I can use the main dish and transform it into the next nights meal, for example baked herb chicken can turn into chicken spaghetti, etc.
I’m always looking for more efficient ways to plan my meals for the week and get the menu planning process more streamlined. What are your tips and tricks? Does this work for your family?