Keeping the house, the kids and the hubby without breaking the bank, the earth, the people I love, or myself.

Cutting Your Family's Grocery Bill Part 2

Menu and Meal Planning
Now that you have everything inventoried, you're going to sit down and figure out what to do with it. Grab some paper and a pen, and maybe have your most often used cook book at your side as well.

Most families tend to eat the same 10 meals over and over again. This makes meal planning very easy. That's right, I said meal planning. Yes, those of you who know me well know that I have a tendency to buck any rigid systems....and that's why I have a very light and easy way of meal planning.

First: list your family's regular meals. By all means, include lunches and breakfasts as this will only help you with cutting that grocery bill and eliminating unnecessary spending.

In our home we regularly have the following for dinner (you might call it supper): pasta, several casseroles, salads of every kind, chili, chicken breasts, pork chops, roasts, tacos, burgers, hot dogs, pizza. There are ten items there. But if you look closely, you can easily see how those ten items could be 20-30 different things depending upon how you prepare them. Lunches consist of sandwiches or salads or soup, fruit and/or veggies. Breakfasts are generally cereal, oats, pancakes, french toast, bagels, english muffins, eggs, and the occasional (read rare) home fries, mush (you might call it polenta), sausages, or bacon.

Now look at your inventory and see how many meals you can make from what you already have at home. Fill in a rough menu plan.

I used to plan each week carefully including breakfasts and lunches and follow the daily menu. But because my body, mind, and spirit have a deep and abiding aversion to strict structure, I bucked that system and simply plan meals. I don't have to have them on any set day unless they are meals that are dependant on left-overs from another meal, and that gives me the freedom to be somewhat spontaneous in my meal choices. For instance I have burgers, steak, chicken, taco salad, chicken quesedillas on the menu for next week. I won't have red meats two days in a row so I know we'll be having some variation of hamburgers, then chicken, hotdogs, then chicken, taco salad, then chicken....etc. How I prepare them will be decided, but when I do it is up to the wind. It's my organized-but-not-too-strict menu planning system. It works for us.

I always make sure that our dinner meals contain a protein source, two vegetables or fruits, and maybe a grain. A grain is never mandatory in our dinners as the kids eat cereal for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch (or half sandwiches for snacks), and get quite their daily fill of grains. Desserts are only a bonus, never a given. They also happen to be fairly rare.


Gill - That British Woman 8:26 PM  

I am very lazy with my menu planning and I think that is the number one thing in saving money with your groceries....


CannedAm 12:29 AM  

I agree. I think it is the BIGGEST money saver. I'm lazy about it...I recycle old menus and I'm very relaxed now in its execution. I'm one step away from pulling meals out of a hat. LOL! I'll post my next menu...soon as I figure out a way to do it since I no longer do Monday, Tuesday, etc. We shall see....

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About This Blog

Saving money. Saving graces. Raising children, husbands and, sometimes, cats. Laughing. Living. Thinking. Doing. Life in the Niagara Region of Ontario.

About Me

I am a happily married woman with four children and various cats and kittens (fosters). I love to read and my favourite authors are George RR Martin, Thomas Hardy, Raymond Carver, PD James, Kurt Vonnegut, J. K. Rowling, and Margaret Atwood. I know there are only three women in that list (and none of them American), so if you'd like to suggest some I'm willing to give them a shot! And yes, I am an American living in Canada. (Hence the nick -- CannedAm.) I like it here. There are things about the states that I miss, but my love is here and this country has things to offer that my own does not. Things that make my quality of life much better than it ever was in Ohio. Guess I'm stuck here. Though there's a nice spot in the Appalachian hills where I'd love to spend my retirement.

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