On Mondays I have been participating in Meal Planning Mondays. Meal planning is not new for me though. I have been doing some sort of meal planning for a long time. Menu planning for me has been a big time and money saver.
When my husband was in college meal planning was a necessity. I did it because I had to shop the sales and use coupons. If something was on sale and I had a coupon, that is what we ate. I remember one time I got pasta really, really, cheap. Well, we ate nothing but pasta dishes for weeks. I planned my meals around what was on sale that week. I did not make most of my meals because they sounded good, I made them because the ingredients were on sale.
Menu planning still saves me money, but now it also saves me time. It costs a lot of money and time to continually run to the grocery store because you do not have the items needed for dinner. Meal planning keeps you from having your husband bring home pizza because it is 5:30 and you have no idea what to cook. I rarely buy frozen pizzas or premade meals. I keep a few meals I have made in the freezer, but I find that when I meal plan I don’t need the store bought ready to bake items. When you plan ahead you know what you need, what you have at home, and what you need to buy.
When I plan my meals, I plan according to what I think my week looks like. If I am really busy, I plan quick meals, crock pot dinners, or I use a meal I have previously frozen. I know Tuesdays are my busy day. My girls have piano lessons, we usually go to the library, and I do my shopping. On Tuesdays, I do not have much time to spend on preparing dinner. I can plan for an easier meal. Wednesdays are also a busy day for us. It is hard to get dinner and everyone out the door in time for our Wednesday night prayer meeting. I plan a quick meal with as little clean up as possible on Wednesday. If I did not meal plan, on these two days we would end up eating out or using store bought meals a lot. Planning ahead for days like these saves money.
Does my meal plan always go as scheduled? No! But it gives me an overall idea of what I can fix. If I have roast planned on Monday and home made pizza planned for Thursdays, I may change it around. Roast may not sound good on Monday and pizza may. Roast might work better on Friday. Other days something may come up, and I don’t cook as planned. On days like that I might make an adjustment. We might have sandwiches or breakfast for dinner. Both of which are quick and easy to make. We all have days that don’t go the way we planned or days that are very busy. Meal plans make these days and everyday easier for me.
My point is in the end having a basic meal plan has saved me time and money. If you have never menu planned, I would suggest you give it a try. Start by just planning one or two things a week. Even if you plan boxed mac and cheese one night, it is still a plan. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to start with every meal for a full week. Start with a few meals, and see how it goes. As you get used to it, add more meals to the plan.