Thursday, September 04, 2008

Frugal Benefits Of Using A Master Menu Plan

I have spent quite a lot of time the last few days discussing my master menu plan and master grocery list. (You can read those posts here.) I am ready to retire this topic for a while, but not until I mention how much of a help these things are to my frugality.

My master menu plan is filled with recipes that I know how to make easily without looking at a cookbook. It is also filled with meals that I can quickly alter when missing an ingredient or two. This allows me the freedom to cook healthy meals for my family every day in the most frugal way possible.

When I make my selections for the month, I choose meals that will allow me to stretch ingredients. If I know I am going to need shredded chicken for a few recipes, I will make sure I also include plenty of meals where I can use homemade chicken stock. Or, if I know I'll need to do a lot of baking throughout the month, I can refer to my master plan and prepare many similar items at one time. This way I can have the oven on for a whole day instead of for 30 minutes here or there throughout the month. I also view it as a way to be frugal with my time.

Combining monthly menu planning with once-a-month grocery shopping and freezer cooking also reduces the urge to go out to eat or pick up something to take-out on those really busy days. When I let my monthly menu planning slip over the summer and didn't have as much food in the freezer, it was too easy to give in to temptation.

The last benefit I want to mention is that using a master menu plan is the easiest way I've found to stick to my budget. Not only can I plan meals around sale items, but I can also make adjustments to meals if I'm getting too close to maxing out the budget. I can easily swap a dinner of pork chops Milanese for black bean and brown rice burritos. I can see at a glance what we will be eating throughout the month, so I can easily substitute without taking away anything nutritionally.

For more Frugal Friday, make sure you stop by Crystal's blog, where congratulations are in order for her just announced pregnancy of baby #3.


Brooke 9:22 AM  

i completely agree with you! this month i haven't meal planned because we're working on getting the new house ready. i don't know from day to day if we'll be at Mr. Right's apartment or our new house. Its very tough to plan like that. And we're spending way to much money on fast food!

Sherry 10:03 AM  

I don't plan for a whole month but I do for 2 weeks. :D I can definitely tell a difference. :D

Lynn 10:23 AM  

I love meal planning. I usually do it for 2 weeks at a time. It saves so much time and money.

Sonshine 3:50 PM  

Thanks for taking the time to explain your method for doing once a month shopping/meal planning. I have really enjoyed reading it and even gleaning some ideas to work at incorporating into my method.

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