January 8, 2010

Menu Planning for Those Who Hate to Plan

You know you spend too much money on food.  You want to cut back, but it's not that easy to organize and plan meals in advance.  Especially when fast food and pre-packaged stuff are so easy to grab. 

And you hate the idea of planning a menu for you and your family.  You won't know what mood you're in next Tuesday.  The kids are picky.  Still, cash is going down the drain so it's probably a good idea to investigate how to save some on your food dollars. 

Surf the web, and you'll find a lot of information regarding menu planning.  You can buy software, you can download templates.  You can read a lot of articles and blog posts offering advice on how to budget your grocery dollars. 

It can be overwhelming, especially if you don't have much time and you either can't cook, or don't want to spend lots of time in the kitchen.  Not everyone is a fan of the Food Network.

So, here's an alternative that's easy and fast.  Start with breakfast. 

That's right.  Breakfast is a simple meal, and for most folk it's probably pretty repetitive already.  The kids have cereal, you have a bagel.  Coffee, juice, milk.  Or you drive thru to get an egg sandwich or a taco on the way to work, forget even having food at home. Maybe you expand things on the weekend, serve up pancakes or Eggos or heck, even an omelette. 

Planning your breakfast food costs will save you money.  This is especially true if you're buying restaurant/fast food items.

So, begin your menu planning with your first meal of the day.  Plan in advance what works best for you.  Does couponmom have some deals right now?  Incorporate them.  On the weekends, can you make pancakes from batter instead of using frozen Eggo waffles?  (Pancakes are really easy, if you're not asked to flip them.)  Great! Making those pancakes will save money and it's more fun, too.  Plus, you can sneak in nutritional stuff like whole wheat, berries, and bananas into the pancakes and get some nutrition down the kiddos (and yourself) while you're at it.

Master breakfast.  And when you're feeling so proud of yourself about breakfast, ponder taking on LUNCH. 

You get the idea. 

For more information on menu planning, check out: 

Fifteen Tips for Maximizing Your Food Budget
Going Organic - Step One
Menu Planning 101
Menu Planning 102
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