I have planned menus for the week ever since I was first married.
At first it was pretty much a necessity. My food budget for the week was $10. This was in the 1960s, so food was a lot cheaper than now. I would go to the store with my meal plan and grocery list and would add up as I went along. If I went over the $10 something went back on the shelf and I would adjust my meal plan accordingly.
As time went on, we had more money, but we had a couple of children. Both of my sons were born in Germany and we lived on a military base. My shopping then was done on the base and in the market. The market was weekly, and time was tight with two small children to care for.
If your priority is saving time or money, meal planning is important.
· Going to the store once a week or on a regularly scheduled basis saves you from taking time (and using gas) to drop in every day or two to pick up something for supper
· Planning a menu for the week allows you to pull out recipes and make choices only on scheduled times rather than daily searching for a recipe and hoping you have what you need to prepare it
· If you know you have all of the ingredients, meal preparation is so much faster and easier
· Fixing simple meals takes less time than going out to eat or usually even ordering for delivery
· Looking at your calendar for the week can help you determine when you have the time to cook a full meal or a meal that can serve multiple days
· Having a plan and shopping list cuts back on impulse buying – random buying of items that seem like a good idea at the moment will often go unused if you have no plan on how to use them
· When you only shop once it is easy to see how much money you have spent on the food rather than adding up multiple receipts – each one seeming small until you total them
· Buying only what you need for the week keeps you from stockpiling items that sit in the back of your pantry until they expire
· When planning always check your supplies at home so that you don’t buy what you already have – no one needs 3 containers of paprika
· Planning allows you to note what you have already open and in the fridge that needs to be used or tossed – work that extra chicken broth or sour cream into the meal plan
· Eating good meals at home is less expensive than eating out
I’ve had people tell me, “I have no idea what I'll feel like eating on Wednesday.” I usually reply that I don’t have to eat on Wednesday what I have planned but at least I know that I have food available to prepare that meal. If I have an exhausting day and don’t want to prepare that meal, the ingredients can hold a few more days and I can order in a pizza. But usually when I plan my menus, I look over my calendar first. I do not schedule cooking lasagna on a busy day.
I plan my meals for the week – breakfast, lunch, and supper. Then I type the meal plan onto a template that is on my computer, print it off, and post it on the fridge. That way others in the family can see what to expect. Again, this is not carved in stone. Sometimes a dish is not quite as tasty as I thought it would be, so we really don’t want it again for a second night. Or conversely something was so good that we ate more of it than I expected and while there may be a bit of leftovers for lunch, not enough for another supper. I usually have some leftovers in the freezer from previous meals, so we are still covered.
I love to cook but I do not like to spend a lot of time shopping. I like variety in my meals and enjoy pursuing recipes once a week. Having a plan where I know when I am going to shop and what I am serving for the week is immensely helpful. It is routine now for me and I love knowing that I am a good steward of both my time and my money.
If you want help or just some accountability in working any organizational plan to save you time or money, join Diane Quintana and me on our Clear Space For You clutter support group.
Jonda S. Beattie, Professional Organizer owner of Time Space Organization, and co-owner of Release, Repurpose, Reorganize. She is based in the Metro-Atlanta area. As presenter, award-winning author, as well as a retired special education teacher she uses her listening skills, problem solving skills, knowledge of different learning techniques, ADHD specialty, and paper management skills to help clients tackle the toughest organizational issues. Jonda does hands on organizing and virtual organizing. For more of Jonda’s tips connect with her on Facebook.