Family menu planning saves time, money and frustration. Staring into the refrigerator at dinner time isn’t the best place to find culinary inspiration. Most times, you’ll end up frustrated and without an idea for dinner. Plan your family meals so you can make one trip to the grocery store each week. You’ll have everything you need for all of the meals without last minute trips to the store.
Make a List
Lists of potential meals make menu planning much easier. Begin by listing all of the main dishes, side dishes and other meal components that the family enjoys. Most families have a regular rotation of foods they eat on a regular basis. Making a list might remind you of dishes you make on occasion that could be used more often. The lists also help you mix and match main dishes with side dishes. Pull out the meal lists each time you plan your weekly menu as a reference. You can easily pick items from the list to fill in the menu form.
Assess Pantry & Freezer
Take stock of your pantry and freezer before you work on your weekly menu. Make a list of the items that you use often in your recipes and to see what you need to replace. For example, if you usually incorporate a pasta meal into your weekly menu, make sure you keep an ample supply of pasta varieties and sauces in your pantry. Update the pantry and freezer lists on a regular basis for easier family meal planning.
Plan Around Sales
Another way to save money on your grocery bill is to plan your menu around the grocery ads for the week. Gain a sense of the normal prices for the items you purchase regularly. Knowing the usual price makes it easier for you to spot a good deal. Scour the weekly grocery ad to determine which items are below the normal price, particularly main dish items such as meat. Plan your weekly meals using those items as the main course.
Personalized Shopping List
Create personalized shopping lists to make menu planning and shopping easier. Type out a list of items your family uses on a regular basis. When planning your meals, circle the items on the list that you need for that week. You can also keep the weekly list handy and circle staples as you run out of them. This ensures you’ll have all of the basics for your meals when you go to cook.
Menu routines simplify the planning process. Since most families have a natural rotation of regular meals, it makes sense to use this to your advantage. Create two or three weekly menus and cycle through them regularly. Once you’ve finished the third week, go back to week one. Leave room in the routine for new recipes that you want to try.