Menu Planning: Basics

{005} my attempt at menu planning
Image by jen_maiser via Flickr

Planning ahead is the basis of most cost savings. It is never more true than dinner time. When we don’t have a plan, dinner becomes an expensive meal out, pizza delivery or unhealthy fast food. Set aside a few minutes each week to decide what you will have for dinner. Don’t forget to plan breakfast and lunch, as needed.

Knowing what you are going to cook will help you make a defined grocery list. Buying only what you need to prepare your meals will save time and money at the store. For even bigger savings use the sales, and the contents of your freezer, to plan your meals. It is easy to let the stores dictate what you have for dinner. When you find a good deal on carrots, work them into your menu plan. If you stock up on potatoes, find a variety of ways to prepare them for dinner all week.

This week, chicken breasts have been on sale at almost every grocery store. This opens up a world of possibilities for the week: grilled chicken, baked chicken, fried chicken, chicken tacos, chicken chili or chicken salad could have been included in your menu. If you stock up on your favorite cuts of meat, you can even freeze them for use in next week’s meal planning.

In addition to basic meal planning, there are a variety of fun ways to select your family’s meals. Our series continues with some creative ideas for planning your family’s menu:

Menu Planning Part 2: Calendar Cooking
Menu Planning Part 3: Meal Rotations
Menu Planning Part 4: Creative Solutions