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Creating a Meal Plan

Last post Thu, Mar 24 2011 8:55 AM by slk2042. 11 replies.
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  • Tue, Mar 22 2011 5:49 PM

    • Brandy
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Wed, Mar 28 2007
    • Saving in South Mississippi
    • Posts 25,145

    Creating a Meal Plan

     Following a menu or meal plan can help with budgeting, creating a shopping list and staying on track with preparing meals. Where does a beginner to meal planning start with the process?

    Do you have tips? How did you start out?

     

    The Dollar Stretcher Community Manager



  • Tue, Mar 22 2011 7:29 PM In reply to

    Re: Creating a Meal Plan

    I asume the four food groups in making the pan around the sale flyers and create a list lets say produce fruits veggies then the dairy bread grains and stuff so on so furth and to work with the coupons the store offers and stick within the budget like my food bill is 20.oo aweek sometimes higher but for a family for the month got to times it by 4 so make a list, and stick within it.

  • Wed, Mar 23 2011 4:54 AM In reply to

    Re: Creating a Meal Plan

    I spend a GOOD amount of time before grocery haul day doing kitchen and shelf/pantry inventory to see what I have to work with and need to use up and what I do not need to buy more of. I start to menu plan around this stratagy as well as browsing ALL the local circular ads in the mail and online --- I'm talking grocery to drug stores. I look for sales and coupons and then plan some shopping around that in addition to my discount grocery store. I browse other's menu/weekly meal plans/ideas online for menu planning ideas and like to create my own charts and lists of meal ideas for the week. Let numbers, charts, lists and extra time become your best friend - it will save you $$$ in the end. There are tons of free sites with recipes, stock pile usage ideas, menu plans/meal ideas and shopping lists to go with them... free printable charts, etc. to help. A dry eraser board for the fridge helps too - you can write out a full day's menu or meals for the week and follow it.

     Hillbilly Housewife's website is a must too, great info. Sign up for her newsletter!

     

    and of course this site!

    "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." ~Chinese Proverb~
  • Wed, Mar 23 2011 8:26 AM In reply to

    Re: Creating a Meal Plan

    I agree with BargainBinge, it's good to know what you have to work with.

    If you are just starting out with menu planning, it might be a good idea sit down with your family to brainstorm what your favorite meals are. Some may really like spaghetti, others may enjoy the meatloaf. Some of your family members may like your cornbread recipe, but others may prefer rice. If you have picky eaters, this may be a way for them to feel like they have a voice in the dinner plan.

    After you get about 2 weeks' worth of dinner plans, get out a piece of paper and write down all the ingredients you'll need to make each meal. This will help you with grocery lists.

    I used this strategy when I was just starting out on my own with DH. It worked great. When we sat down to do our dinner plans, he told me that lima beans are his favorite veggie. Who'da thunk?? So I try to keep lima beans on the menu at least two or three times a month. Broccoli is my fave, so we eat that a few times each month as well.

    Now I have a list of about 45 dinner ideas. That helps us keep the variety. Some of those ideas are soups, which we mostly eat during winter. Since I have a wide variety of meal possibilities, I can look at the store circulars and just "know" what to make with what's on sale. So if frozen spinach is on sale, I may stock up a bit, because we like spinach in our soups and sprinkled on pizza. Then, later, I can plan the weeks' menus around what I have on hand in my pantry, as BargainBinge does.

    Stacie

    http://holdinghandswithmyhoney.blogspot.com/
  • Wed, Mar 23 2011 8:55 AM In reply to

    Re: Creating a Meal Plan

    I agree with Bargain and slk2042 knowing what you already have to work with does help a lot.  And knowing what your family likes (or doesn't like) is important.  I do or have done the things they both suggest. 

    I also keep an eye on any leftovers we have each week.  Is there enough to serve another way for supper one night or only enough for lunch one day?  Can I put the leftovers in the freezer and use them at a later time?  I will modify my menu plan if I have enough leftovers to make a meal with.  Using leftovers keeps our food waste down and that saves us money. 

    Take this week for example, one night we had shredded turkey in gravy over noodles.  I didn't have enough turkey/gravy/noodles to serve as the main dish for supper again.  BUT I do have enough to use as the filling for a small turkey pie.  So I will make that for supper on Friday night with some sides.  Last week I cooked some bone in/skin on chicken thighs to shred up and freeze.  There was some lovely chicken stock from doing that.  Don't have room in the freezer for it but don't want to waste it.  I will use it to make chicken & dumplings on Saturday.   

    When your outgo exceeds your income, your upkeep is your downfall. - Unknown
  • Wed, Mar 23 2011 11:43 AM In reply to

    • Brandy
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Wed, Mar 28 2007
    • Saving in South Mississippi
    • Posts 25,145

    Re: Creating a Meal Plan

     

    cheapChic:
    I asume the four food group

     Even though the food pyramid replaced the concept of the four food groups, I still think in those terms too. When planning meals, I have a meat, a starch(bread/pasta/potato/rice) and a vegetable but rather than a fruit, I have salad as the fourth item usually.

     

    The Dollar Stretcher Community Manager



  • Wed, Mar 23 2011 12:20 PM In reply to

    Re: Creating a Meal Plan

    I too base my meal plans around what we already have on hand. I usually do a meat with 2 veggies, and sometimes a fruit for dessert. I also check the sales ads and see what's on sale that I need, or want to stock up on for future use. And then I make my meal plan, and fill in around what I'll need to complete the meals. I hardly ever use the ads to plan my meals for the week. I do like Bargain & slk do. I do use coupons, but I don't depend on them as I try to buy as many store brands as I can, and there aren't usually many coupons for store brand items.

    ~*~Angie~*~

  • Wed, Mar 23 2011 2:08 PM In reply to

    • Brandy
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Wed, Mar 28 2007
    • Saving in South Mississippi
    • Posts 25,145

    Re: Creating a Meal Plan

     

    eyrehead:
    I too base my meal plans around what we already have on hand

    I think it's cheaper to use what you have and keep a good stock of staples. This way, food is bought at it's best price while trying to make meals off of sale ites may end with paying full price for some ingredients to finish out a meal.

     

    The Dollar Stretcher Community Manager



  • Wed, Mar 23 2011 6:07 PM In reply to

    Re: Creating a Meal Plan

    I base my meal plan on my pantry/freezer stock, what I need to use up in the fridge from the week before, and loss leaders at the store.  Sometimes I buy loss leaders for future use, sometimes I buy them to use that week.  Depends on what it is, for example if there is a good sale on broccoli, I may plan to make broccoli quiche or soup that week.  If there is a sale on pasta, I'll stock up the pantry a bit.

    I tend to plan 6 dinners a week, leaving one night for leftovers or quick fix.  I always have some basics and keep a few quick fix items in the freezer for when I want a cooking break.

    I do think I need to do better at meal planning.  I think I should add more dishes to our nightly meal~as our kids get older, they eat more and more and lately, it seems like we could use another side dish often times.

    Another thing I love to do but have to admit I am out of the habit of doing is cooking for the freezer.  For awhile, I was great about doubling recipes that freeze well so that I had meals ready to go but I have gotten out of the habit.  Those were great sanity savers and money savers too!

  • Wed, Mar 23 2011 8:40 PM In reply to

    Re: Creating a Meal Plan

    Brandy when shopping in the store this I would like to ask you would can fruit count as part of the food groups and the can veggies sometimes produce is not on hand so change over to the can then when the produce would be avlable then to that or would that be to expensive doing it that way thats how come sticking to ones list can work sometimes it don't mom says it goes both ways but not all the time.

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