Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Menu is a Must

You've probably read that somewhere before, haven't you? In fact, Yahoo! had an article the other day on 100 ways to save money and you can bet that planning meals from a menu was right there are the top for saving in the home!
This is why its a must. Without a menu you go into the grocery store without a plan. That's like jumping in your car for family vacation and telling your husband, "Let's see where the road takes us!" Sure its a fun and carefree life full of many adventures but the dollar signs add up quickly. Without a plan/menu you're much more likely to grab food at eye level--food that grocery stores have stocked there for that very reason--food that's likely more expensive, food you probably already have a home, food that you may not even end up using to make a meal. What a waste! A Menu is a Must because it will save you big bucks.
Example. I was complaining to my budget-genius best friend about how hard it was to stay within my grocery budget. She asked me, "Are you using a menu?" I wasn't of course. She sat me right down and explained I had to use one. I was skeptical at first, but I did it. We were students at the time, so I was willing to try anything to save money. I couldn't believe the result. I took my $250-300 grocery spending to $150 per month (for two people)!
It doesn't have to take up all your time either. Here are a few tips for getting started:
1. To make Menu Making quick, make up a list of meals you and your family like to eat, that way, when you're in a rush you can pick a few from that list. The bonus is you're likely to have a lot of the ingredients on hand if you make it often.
2. You don't have to plan specifics, like Monday-Lasagna, Tuesday-Meat and Potatoes, Wednesday Pizza, etc. My best friend just lists 4-5 meals she wants to make that week and picks whichever one suits her fancy that night.
3. Plan for busy nights; plan for nights you'll have more time. If you have soccer, ballet and PTA on Wednesday night, don't plan on making a time consuming meal, pick something quick instead.
4. Plan your meal with your grocery store's flyer. If beef is on sale, don't plan for chicken. By using the flyer to plan meals with ingredients that are already on sale, you'll definitely save.
There! You are now armed with everything you to know to save yourself some major cash!

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