Saturday, September 5, 2015

Menu Planning

If you follow me on Instagram, last week I posted a shot of our lunch/menu planning trip to Panera.  If you don't currently menu plan, I strongly encourage you to.  It helps tremendously with budgeting, grocery shopping, and if you are an OCD list maker - your sanity.

I plan our meals - breakfast, lunch and dinner - for the entire month.  I print out a blank month from the calendar on my computer, and use that to write in our meals.  This stays posted on the fridge, so we always know what our next meal is.  I make my grocery lists for a week at a time, and organize my list based on type of item - ex. dairy, meats, etc.  If you go to the store with a plan and a list to mark off as you go, you will do so much better about overspending AND over buying.  This will only work though if you are checking your pantry and fridge to see what you already have.

Planning out meals also helps keep you from going out to eat (unless it's been planned into the menu), because you have already bought all the ingredients for the meal.  We had gotten bad about not having a definite plan for dinner, or forgetting to thaw out meat and then just going out for dinner.  Now we stick to our menu plan unless an unplanned event pops up, in which case we just shift our meal plan back a day.

I also plan breakfast because I have to be up super early for work, and I need something that I can eat while driving and that will keep me full for a long time.  So sitting down to a bowl of cereal is out of the question for me, aside from the fact that I don't really care for milk and I definitely don't want milk at six in the morning. Maybe that makes me a weirdo.  Does anyone else have this feeling of resigned tolerance of milk?

We do plan a night each week for takeout (Thursdays!), and then a couple of nights a month to go out to a nice dinner. I feel like it's the same mindset as transitioning to a healthy diet; you have to have a few cheat days to help you stick to it.

If you don't already plan your menu, try it out!  Set aside an afternoon or a couple of hours and find some recipes, organize your calendar, and make your grocery list.  Remember to be detailed and if you're buying an ingredient that you only need a small amount of (such as fresh herbs or produce) try to plan other meals that week that can also use those ingredients.

Happy Planning!

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