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Do you ever feel like your family eats the same thing over and over again? That may be a good thing where your budget it concerned.
Meal planning is a great way to maximize your food budget. I have done meal planning for years, but when I sit down to make my weekly menu I am often at a loss for ideas. I click over to Pinterest and start searching recipe ideas, and jot down some new recipes for the week. Before I know it I have a weeks full of new recipes to try, which generally comes with a huge list of ingredients I need to purchase. Some weeks I felt like it would be cheaper just to grab a pizza on the way home!
After several years of perfecting my meal planning technique, I have discovered that there is tremendous value in repetition. Not only does it make the task of planning go faster, it saves a lot of money at the grocery store. Today I am going to share how a repetitive menu saves money, and how to use it to your advantage!
The Same Ingredients = Less Money Spent At The Store
The reason a repetitive menu saves money is because you are basically keeping the same ingredients on hand. You aren’t buying a whole set of ingredients for just one recipe. And you aren’t buying odd ingredients you’ll only use once.
We have tacos about once a week. I make refried beans for them, so I can buy a 10lb bag of pinto beans and be set for several months. I know I can stock up on pasta when I see a good sale because I have several recipes in rotation I could use it in. If I buy a bag of potatoes that I will use the whole thing instead of using a few and eventually tossing the rest when they go bad.
Repetition Saves Time
It really is true – time is money. When you repeat a lot of the same recipes, its a lot quicker to put a menu together vs. spending the time to find new recipes. Some people put together a 30 day meal plan and repeat it monthly. Some do it seasonally (like The Prudent Homemaker – love her blog!). Find a system that works for you, and you can dramatically slash the amount of time you spend planning.
Repetition Doesn’t Have To Be Boring
No one wants to eat the same thing over and over, but a repetitive menu doesn’t mean you can’t add a new dish here and there. Plus, if you are rotating a monthly or seasonal menu you may not repeat the same recipe for a month or more. When you do find a new recipe you want to try, add it to the end of your menu. If you end up liking it, add it to your rotation.
Where To Start?
Maybe you don’t meal plan at all and the idea of planning out an entire month is overwhelming. I suggest you start by creating a secret Pinterest board and start posting tried and true recipes. This way when you sit down to plan, you have recipes at your fingertips.
Take an afternoon and sit down with your cookbooks and Pinterest board and plan at least a week’s worth of meals. Write out your grocery list based on that menu, and you’re off to a great start! Sometimes I fly by the seat of my pants and do a week at a time, and sometimes I like to have the entire month planned. Do what works best in your schedule.
If you feel like you serve your family the same meals over and over again, don’t be down on yourself. Tweak the frequency with a solid meal plan and watch your savings start adding up.