Planning a menu, as previously learned, is very helpful in cutting your family’s budget. You can make the process as simple or as complex as you want, but you can also make it a0 lot of fun. Try using a modified version of the meal rotation concept by creating theme nights. Include a night for soup & salad, the slow cooker, breakfast for dinner and any other style of cooking you enjoy. You could plan the week as basic as Monday=chicken, Tuesday=beef, Wednesday=pork, Thursday=pasta or as complicated as you want.
Maybe Monday is pizza night, but you rotate pizza-style casseroles with homemade pizza rather than ordering delivery every week. Tuesday could be international night when you rotate pasta, tacos, stir-fry or even more exotic international cuisine. This idea could be expanded into an entire weekly menu. Plan a week of worldwide meals like English roast, corned beef and cabbage or Italian pasta.
Another way to save big is to plan your meals around leftovers. Have a “Take out the Trash” Night when you utilize what’s left in the fridge before it goes bad. Let the kids have fun with this one by taking orders from the menu of leftovers. If reheated meals aren’t your thing, find a way to use leftovers in another recipe as an ingredient. You can also use produce that has a limited life span for baking, soup or stews. Over ripened bananas are better for bread or muffins than fresh ones.
The concept of cooking once, but serving twice reduces waste, saves time and cuts your grocery budget. It fits nicely with using your calendar for meal planning. You choose one night to fix a full meal, then pick one later in the week to utilize the leftovers. Use the last of the roasted chicken to make chicken noodle soup or the soon-to-expire vegetables to make stew. Plan to make meatball subs a few days after your spaghetti dinner. Fix a warm potato soup with the leftover side dish from last night’s dinner.
Plan ahead, use your resources and spend a lot less on your family’s daily meals.