A weekly or monthly dinner menu can save you time and money. Planning ahead eliminates the temptation to order a pizza or hit the local fast food restaurant, making it easier to feed your family nutritious meals. You can plan your menus by hand, on the computer or even using your smart phone, depending upon what works best for you.
Make a List
Take a quiet hour and make a list of all of your family's favorite meals, including side dishes. You may want to note how long each meal takes to prepare, as well as any special ingredients you might not normally keep on hand. If you use a slow cooker, note which recipes are slow cooker-friendly to help with your menu planning. Once you've listed family favorites, add new recipes and meal ideas you've wanted to try to your list.
When your list is complete, sit down with your calendar. Start with your busiest evenings, planning out slow cooker or super-quick meals on those days. Add more preparation-intensive meals to quiet days or weekends. You may also want to include extra prep work for weekday meals on days when you have additional time. Plan to roast two chickens or chop Tuesday night's vegetables on Sunday afternoon to make the most of your meal plan.
Check the Sales
Review your grocery store sales flyer, checking for sales on foods your family enjoys. You can stock your freezer for coming weeks or even adjust your weekly menu to accommodate a bargain. If you have time, plan your dinner menu on the day the grocery ads come out, making it easier to take advantage of sales on fresh meat or produce. If you opt to buy in bulk, consider keeping a list on your freezer and pantry of the contents to make it easier to plan to use them in a timely fashion.
Make a List
Once you've made your menu, make a shopping list to go along with it. Save time by preparing a basic template on the computer with weekly purchases, like milk and eggs, already on the list. Check your refrigerator and pantry, and then add anything you need for meals to the list. Don't forget to buy for breakfasts and lunches when you make your shopping list.
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