Have you ever found yourself frantically trying to defrost something edible at 5.30pm. Or piling a wailing infant and grouchy toddler into the car and fight rush-hour traffic to get to the grocery store. Do you find yourself reaching for the phone to order pizza again, even though you know that the family budget (and waistlines!) deserve something better? We’ve all been there – it’s not pretty!
More and more studies are showing that families that meet round the dinner table, even a couple of times a week, are happier, healthier and generally more productive. We owe it to our children, our husbands and ourselves to bring dinner time back to the table.
So here’s my major weapon against drive-thru’s and out-of-control grocery budgets –
Now before you go rolling your eyes and clicking away, think about it. Eating out is expensive; fast food isn’t healthy; and it really only takes a few minutes each week to lower your stress level and your food bill.
So here’s how it works –
- You’re going to make two lists – one with the nights of the week that you’re going to serve dinner on – I call it my Weekly Menu, and one to take to the store (shopping list).
- Pick a day of the week where you could go grocery shopping, preferably on your own. (Making it the same day each week makes life more structured and easier to manage, but it’s not vital. Pick a time that suits your schedule )
- The day or evening before, do aquick check of your freezer, fridge and cupboards. See what you have that could form the base of a meal. (Remember that tray of chicken thighs getting frostbite, or those five boxes of pasta you got on special….)
- Decide what recipe you could make with it. Could be a family favorite or you could finally make that one you clipped from a magazine two months ago! Do you need any extra ingredients? Write them on your shopping list. Make sure you have everything you need, including side dishes.
- Then choose a night to serve it on and write that down on your Weekly Menu. Hint : Check your calendar for what’s happening in your family that week. You don’t want to plan a meal with a lot of prep time for a night that you only get home at 6pm. Those days call for a Crock Pot recipe!
- You might not have enough in your freezer for the whole week – but that’s OK. Make a note on your shopping list (ie. Need dinner for Thursday) and see what’s on special when you get to the store. Taking advantage of store specials this way saves a ton of money.
- Then check for side dishes – veggies, rice, etc – and write those down on your list.
Within about 10 minutes (seriously, it doesn’t take more than that!) you will have a set of meals for the next week, and a full shopping list of everything you’ll need. Plus you’ll get to use up all those random things lurking in your fridge and freezer. And if you’re really organized, you’ll attached those coupons you clipped, to your shopping list so they’re right there when you need them at the register.
Then off to the store to buy only what’s on your list. You’ll be amazed how much you save and you’ll be in and out in no time, with money left in your wallet!
Each day, check your Menu to see what’s for dinner tomorrow, and pull it from the freezer or do whatever prep needs to be done (soaking beans, etc).
You can do this – really! And it’s so worth it.
You deserve a peaceful, organized home – menu planning helps. I promise.
Just give it a shot!