Column 45 – Menu Planning; A Way to Save Real Money!

 Many times we just think too hard on a subject or think it is going to take a long time to develop a menu plan for your family that we just don’t do it. We wait till the last minute to even begin to cook something for ourselves and our family. As a result we throw in the dish towel before we even open the refrigerator door and head for the first drive-thru. This drains our pocketbooks and adds unwanted pounds to our bodies. Do you know how much money you have been spending on food for your family? This means in the grocery store and eating out. 

Most of our income is spoken for by fixed payments: Utility bills, phone bills, house payments, car payments and credit card payments. When it comes down to saving real money the only place we have any wiggle room is on our food expenses. A little planning today will keep the money in the bank instead of it slipping through your fingers as you pay your toll at the golden arches.

Here is a simple way to make your menu plan: Keep a food calendar. All you have to do is pencil in what you had to eat every night. This will help you to build your menus for a week and this is a great start. We are all creatures of habit, so use these family habits to help you build a routine for your meals.

Let’s use Sunday as an example: Do you go out to dinner or do you fix a big family meal. If you cook; is it pot roast or chicken? Are you beginning to see a pattern to our meals? This is why I like to have a theme to each meal for every day of the week. It can either be the type of meat you are cooking as the main course or how you cook it; the grill, crock pot or casserole.  Or you could have a country theme; Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Greek, American, or Plain ole southern country cookin’.  You can have some real fun with this and teach your children how to cook at the same time. Each night you could have a different Kid Chef. You would let your children help decide on the menu, make our grocery lists and then help prepare the meal. There is no better way to help a child learn about nutrition and real food. Just teach your child to make a salad and watch them ask for seconds and offer them to all the family.

Knowing what you are going to cook is half the battle. The other half is having the food in the house so you can pull it out of the freezer or pantry and fix it. If you have to go to the store you might as well just pass those arches again. This is why having a day set aside to plan menus, take inventory of your refrigerator as you clean it out and then go grocery shopping will help you enjoy cooking with your family again. You will be surprised at how much fun it is to cook when your kitchen is clean and your sink is shining and you have food in the house. Are you ready to feed your family while saving money by getting back in the kitchen?

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