8.03.2011

Monthly Menu Planning: Why It Works for Us

On Monday I posted our August Menu Plan, complete with plan of action for three meals a day. Today I am going to share with you why monthly menu planning works for our family. 



Top 5 Reasons Why Monthly Menu Planning Works for Our Family:

1. We operate on a tight, fixed grocery budget. Since we made the decision that I would not be working this school year, we knew that we were going to have to be one of those couples that has a strict budget. We sat down, crunched the numbers, and decided that we could swing $200 a month on groceries. Some of you are probably thinking, "Whoa. There's no way!" That's what we thought, too. We first started out with a grocery budget with a $400 limit, and slowly we have swindled it down. Let me tell ya, it wasn't an over night deal. There were many times that we broke the budget, but that meant that we were pulling money out of our savings account at the end of the month to pay our bills. Spending in excess, even if it is for food, is just not cool. Knowing ahead of time what meals we want to cook helps us be better stewards with our budget.

2. We already know what recipes we like. We only try a few new recipes a month. We usually know what our schedule is going to be like for the month. Knowing what meals we like allows me to keep certain spices and ingredients in stock, and so it is easy to plan a months worth of meals. Basically, when you know what you like and you know your schedule, it's not that hard to plan that many meals. 

3. It helps me make better use of our resources. I can plan meals around what we already have in the pantry, plan for buying more food storage, and buy what we need when it is on sale. Since we already know what recipes we like, I try to keep the ingredients for those meals on hand in our pantry, or in the freezer. When I am making our grocery list, I first think about what ingredients I need to pick up that we do not have in stock. 

Next, I check the pantry and freezer for items that are running low. I consider these items to be our immediate food storage. I try to have our immediate supply of food stocked at all times. For example, this week I bought canned diced tomatoes, even though I already had 6 cans in my pantry. Food storage is a topic for a totally different post that I will gladly share with you at a later date.

Last, when I am in the store, I find the lowest price item. Often this means compromising for a slightly different item that I can substitute for another, more pricey ingredient. This week I needed spinach for two different salads that I are in this week's menu plan. Spinach was almost $4.00 per bag, and needing two bags, that would have eaten $8.00 of my grocery budget. I decided that spinach was not worth it, and started looking in the salad section for an alternative. What I found was 2 bags of Sweet Butter mixed lettuce for $0.99 each on manager's special. And as with the $0.39 per pound bananas that I shared with you yesterday, I didn't need bananas, but they were a good price, and now I have a little bit of bananas in our food storage. I was able to get chicken breasts for $0.97 per pound, so I stocked up on them also. 

4. Kyle has food allergies. You name it, and Kyle is probably allergic to it. Dairy and soy are the main offenders, but bananas, watermelon, and avocado are also on the list. Have you ever tried cooking without dairy? The main substitute is... SOY! Pretty much any and all processed foods contain soy, so much of our cooking, if not all of it, is from scratch. I usually run my bread maker at least 4 days a week making various baked goods. Due to Kyle's allergies, eating out even through the drive-thru is not an option for us, especially more than once a week. If I did not know what I was going to make for dinner, if I had not planned ahead, I would be spending hours and hours in the kitchen and my husband would go to work without a lunch, and would have an ugly stomach ache from eating processed foods. 

5. It helps me be a better wife. Planning our meals a month at a time helps me in little ways. It helps me help our family by maintaining our grocery budget. It also helps me be better at cooking foods that are safe for Kyle to eat, which makes my husband happy, which in turn makes me happy. Organized is a great way to feel, and organized is what monthly meal planning is for our family. 

Do you have any questions about monthly menu planning? 
How do you plan for your family's meals? 
Leave a comment and tell us what works for you. 

Much love. 


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