Monthly Habit: November – Menu Planning

Menu PlanningIt’s a brand new month and time to practice a brand new habit. Welcome to November — the Menu Planning month. All month long, we are going to learn how to plan our menus to save money and feed our families healthy. This will be a fun habit to learn and to practice. Check out the great info below!

“A little menu planning can go a long way toward feeding your family and saving money at the same time.” – FlyLady


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Are you tired of making the same recipes? Leanne Ely, aka The Dinner Diva, is FlyLady’s very good friend and a certified nutritionist. She has developed several cookbooks full of healthy dinners for families. Check out her original cookbook, Saving Dinner. You can buy a copy of Saving Dinner from The FlyShop.

Here are the habits we have covered so far this year. Remember to reinforce these habits while completing your new one:

Don’t forget to keep up with the habits you created. View our habit archive.

Menu Planning – This means YOU, too!

Dear Friends,

This month’s new habit is menu planning. Now don’t go running to the closet and hide. This is quite simple when you take just a few minutes each week to do this.

First I need to explain to you why menu planning is so important to us. You can’t eat what you don’t have in the house. Just the simple act of sitting down and thinking about what to fix for the next week then going to the grocery store and purchasing the food will give you more freedom than almost anything. This will save you time and money and put good food in your pantry. When you have nutritious food in your home you will feel better about what you and your family are eating.

With the extra cost of heating our homes and driving our cars we have to find a way to save a few bucks here and there. The easiest place to do this is with our food budgets. Oh you don’t have a budget. You have been doing whatever it takes to get food down your family’s throats. When we are in a hurry the first thing that comes to mind is the closest fast food joint or picking up the phone to order pizza once again. A little menu plan and a clean kitchen can go a long way toward feeding your family and saving money at the same time.

Now we are heading into a busy and expensive holiday season. We want to help you use your time and your money in an efficient way to feed your family and at the same time release the guilt. Menu Planning will do this.

Now I am not just talking about dinner time. We have to eat snacks, breakfasts and lunches too. This has to be in our menu planning and on our grocery list. When I first started dealing head on with my diabetes, Leanne helped me to develop a pantry from feeding myself good food. We all have to do this too.

It started with the first meal of the day. I am not a breakfast person unless it is a full blown meal eaten out. I don’t feel like eating in the morning. But in order to get fuel my body I needed to have good food in my home. I have learned that I have to eat to live and I no longer live to eat. I couldn’t stave myself all day and then pig out for dinner. Leanne helped me put together a list of foods that is perpetually on my grocery list. I always have them in my refrigerator and my pantry. For me these are high protein snacky type foods; Yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese, almonds, deli ham and eggs. You have to adapt this list for your family and your dietary needs.

Then you have lunches. If you take your lunch then you will need items that can easily pack or use one of Leanne’s Sample Menu Mailer to produce glorious leftovers that you co-workers will beg you for. Put these things on your perpetual grocery list. Keep your pantry and refrigerator stocked so you will not have spend extra money that we don’t have right now to eat out.

Next we have to think about what we are going to cook for the next week’s evening meals. Establish a Basic Weekly Plan and make it fun. You could use an international theme: Monday could be Italian, Tuesday Mexican, and Wednesday Chinese. You get the picture or you could use another formula: Monday chicken, Tuesday beef, Wednesday pork. Or you could mix it all up and say; Monday is international day, Tuesday Crock Pot day, Wednesday Soup and Sandwiches, Thursday Leftovers, Friday Kid cook day, Saturday Picnic, Sunday Special dinner.

So you see menu planning does not have to be boring. You just need a template to do the scheduling. You can use your calendar for this too. Just pencil in what you have eaten this last week to give you something to go by.

I will say Leanne has some great sample menu mailers to help you get started and for our new book she has developed a Body Clutter Menu Mailer, however, make sure to check out her other samples at www.savingdinner.com.

It is time to get started working on your menus and your grocery list. Get out your pen and paper and set your timer for 15 minutes. I am not asking you to drag out all your cookbooks, we are just working on a plan.

Are you ready to save money and feed your family by establishing this new habit? Who knows it may just help you get rid of some of that Body Clutter that is in your head! You know the “I don’t have time to cook tonight” thought that comes into your head every evening at 6 p.m.

New habits are fun!

FlyLady

Testimonial: Thinking About Tomorrow

Dear FlyLady,

I just wanted to let you know how much menu planning has helped us. I’ve been doing it for about three years now, but I learned about it from you and Leanne. I have never enjoyed cooking, but have found that I enjoy it much more when I’m not standing in front of the fridge at 4:30 trying to figure out WHAT to cook. I have never gotten down planning specific meals for each night – somehow I always seem to plan the meal that takes forever to bake for the night we don’t get home until late, so instead, I make up a list of seven days worth of dinners (side dishes and all) and shop for that. Then, each night as we are cleaning up from tonight’s dinner, we look at the list (and our calendar) and decide what to have the next night. Then, I can pull out the crock pot, or the meat out of the freezer, or anything like that so we are ready to go the next night (or the next morning if we are using the crock pot). If we end up not using a meal that week, I just push it to the next week’s menu.

This has been extra helpful the past year, since we had our second child. I’m sure my house isn’t the only one where dinner time is also melt-down time for the kids, and so I began having an increasingly hard time getting dinner on the table. My husband is wonderful, and he doesn’t mind cooking, but it is usually mac and cheese or hot dogs. Now, if I have my hands full when he gets home, he looks at the list to know what we are having and gets started on a healthy, well-rounded dinner. It take a huge amount of stress off of the evening! And now that I’ve been doing it a while, it only takes a few minutes each week to plan my menus and make out my grocery list (which is now organized as well, thanks to Leanne’s teaching).

Thanks for teaching me how to keep my family well-fed and healthy!

Flying in Texas

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