Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Effective Meal Planning

My years of Motherhood thus far have beenfilled with many ‘trial & error’ periods, in attempts to figure out the most efficient and cost-effective ways of grocery shopping. Now, I believe I have nailed the method that works best for my family, and hopefully, yours too. In total, our grocery bills rarely exceed a total of $200.00 per month!

1.       I have stated this before, and I will do so again: Plan all meals and shop in TWO-week intervals. Some people have suggested planning one MONTH in advance, but this does not seem all that effective because for example, how can you purchase fresh vegetables a month in advance without having them spoil? Two weeks is do-able and is a lot less time-consuming and painful.

2.       What I have done is created andorganized a meal plan on my computer that I can edit and work from when planning my next grocery trip. Again, aftermuch playing around, I have settled on a method that works extremely well—Icall it the “Themed Planner.” Essentially, what it consists of is a“theme-night” for every day of the week. For example, ‘’Slow Cooker Sundays,Mexican Mondays, Pasta Tuesdays” and so on. This planning method makes brainstorming meal ideas so simple. Over time, I suggest researching recipes,bookmarking and even categorizing them because when you may be stuck on planning a meal one evening, you can go to your list and choose one quickly from your findings.

3.       Once you complete your first two-week interval, sit down with your receipt and plan your ongoing budget. If your first two weeks were successful in terms of amountof food versus cost, then you are on the right track. If however, you feel thatyour spending outweighed your stock, you must think of a better solution. This may be done through cutting back on “fun foods” that we all enjoy, brand nameproducts (no name items are normally just as good), and premade foods orsauces—start making your own from scratch! Not only does this cut costs, but it also is healthier for you with no added sugars or salts. Lastly, I cannot stress this step enough—check your weekly flyers! I know some people may find it time-consuming, and I admit, I used to feel the same, but after changing and MAKING it a part of my routine, it has become second-nature. The day the flyers arrive, I sit down that evening and begin browsing through them. I bring out my stack of coupons and begin to price-match to get the best deals in town.

These are three very simple steps that will lead you in the right direction to saving money time and time again; and what is more rewarding than more money in your pocket???

**Please take advantage of our family meal plan template posted if you would like to (it will also be posted shortly on A Mum ‘n the Oven’swebsite in printing format). Note that in this plan, certain nights change the alternating week to add variety and can be effective if you have children. Playaround with it and have fun!

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