My mom always told me that the best way to save money, save time, stay organized, and keep your sanity in regards the kitchen is:
#1 – have a menu and follow it
#2 – never go to bed with a messy kitchen
#3 – buy staple foods in bulk and/or on sale (preferably both)
Going to bed with a clean kitchen is pretty much the norm in our house. I suppose growing up with that made it a fairly easy practice to adopt. To me, going to bed with a messy kitchen is like going to bed with an angry spouse. you know what you’re going to wake up to and it isn’t gonna be pretty. I don’t know anyone who PREFERS to start the day like that.
Buying food in bulk is easy (most of the time). However, without a plan to ration the bulk one tends to use it up quickly. For example, when a meat is on sale for $1.29/lb I’ll get super excited and buy at least 20lbs of it. But then it turns into the next 10 meals and it is gone. I tend to use the bulk IN bulk and get sick of eating it. Not a good practice to keep. But the thought of meal planning seemed kind of daunting to me. I did not want to commit to an entire 4 week cycle of menus especially since I didn’t know what was going to be on sale and when. What about craving certain meals? How does spontaneity fall in there? What if I come across a new recipe I want to try? etc. So I settled for going week to week instead. And through trial and error, I figured out a general outline that has suited us well for over a year now. It offers flexibility, variety, and balance. I hope it helps you (if you are interested)…..
Sunday: omelets and toast
Monday: cold cereal, fruit
Tuesday: hot cereal
Wednesday: eggs, bacon, toast
Thursday: cold cereal, fruit
Friday: pancakes, sausage, (eggs)
Saturday: cold cereal, fruit
*Mac N Cheese
*PB and J
*grilled cheese or quesadilla
DINNER (meat + carb + veggie)
Sunday: homemade pizza night
Wednesday: vegetarian meal and/or soup
Saturday: venison or leftovers
carb options (whole grains): pasta, potatoe, rice, beans, bread
This general outline has been the basis of my menu planning and shopping for many many months. We have saved SO MUCH MONEY planning our meals ahead of time. By doing that, I know what to shop for and how much I need. I don’t waste nearly as much food. When it comes time to making dinner, I KNOW I have the ingredients for what I’ve planned to make (saves so much time and thought). We aren’t eating the same things over and over again. Did I mention that it saves a ton of money this way? I have my list of “staple foods” that I stalk up on each week like crackers, cheese, milk, butter, eggs, baking goods, etc. Then all I have to pick up is whatever the recipes call for.
I hope this helps for all those interested……