From time to time, do you hear yourself saying that you don’t know what to cook or you’re sick of having the same old thing?
Do you spend too much on groceries yet there’s never anything to eat?
Do you hate the rush to prepare the evening meal, and find yourself fighting to get your kids to eat?
Add to this the fact that food costs are rising, and it’s no wonder parents find themselves struggling to afford healthy food for their families.
Could there be a way to eliminate some of this food-related stress?
If you’ve never made a menu-plan, it’s not as technical as it sounds.
It can be jotted down on the back of an envelope, if need be, and doesn’t have to be strictly adhered to.
The idea, though, is to know what you will be cooking and eating ahead of time. Why bother, you ask?
Menu-planning helps eliminate food waste in your home
Look through your freezer and cupboards and see what’s about to get freezer burnt or expire.
Get creative to use up this food before you buy anything else, and consider it money saved.
Search the local flyers
See what’s on special this week and plan your week’s meals around these cheaper ingredients. You will soon get into a rhythm of never paying full price.
Save by stockpiling dry goods
If you know your grocery prices, and if you don’t, then you must learn them, you can watch for deals on canned goods, pasta, rice, and other ingredients that you will need in future menu-plans.
If you can afford to buy bulk, be sure that you can use the whole quantity before it expires or goes bad.
Refrain from going overboard on things your family doesn’t love.
That 10-lb bag of brown rice is of no savings if you can’t get anyone to eat it!
Shop only once a week
If you’ve made a plan, stick to it. Extra trips to the store are costly. Get better at improvising ingredients and doing without.
Observe what’s not being used in your kitchen
If you find yourself throwing out certain foods repeatedly, stop buying it or stop cooking so much of it.
Menu-planning saves time
Once you’ve created a list of meals you’ll cook, make it easy by incorporating one day’s leftovers into the next day’s meal.
For example, leftover roast chicken can be chopped up and added to rice with broccoli and a can of mushroom soup and be the next night’s casserole.
Kids won’t eat casseroles? Keep some of the ingredients separate if that’s what it takes to get them started.
Much better to teach your kids they must eat a bite or two of what’s being served and round out their meal with a dish of fruit or veggies than fall into the habit of cooking them separate meals.
Cook once, eat twice (or more)
When you know what you’re having tomorrow, save time by chopping all the veggies today. Make an extra-large salad to avoid spending your time doing the same tasks over and over.
Plan for the busy nights
Any working adult has days they know are going to be more tiring than others.
Throw in an evening spent at dance or hockey practice and it’s not hard to imagine why many people grab a fast restaurant meal on their way home.
But these meals add up, often to what a week’s worth of food should cost for a careful family of four.
A good menu-plan is not meant to pressure you to cook elaborate meals, but rather to help you cope with a busy schedule.
Know what nights are the hardest to cope with a plan for your easiest meals, or even a frozen pizza and salad, when you know you’re going to need it.
Stop buying empty calories like juice and pop
Give your kids their vitamins from the real thing—a dish or fruit or veggies while you prepare the meal. Add to your grocery list only what you need for your menu-plan, plus one extra emergency meal. Get used to shopping within the plan; it’ll get easier with time.
Marinade cheaper cuts of meat and slow roast them. Bring out the slow cooker. Check out Pinterest or allrecipes.com and have fun looking for menu ideas.
Not every meal you cook has to be a gourmet quality.
Your family needs the recommended daily servings of food found on the Canada Food Guide.
These servings can come in the form of leftovers, a dish of fruit, a smoothie, or a cold plate of veggies along with a casserole. When you cook strategically, you can save both your time and money.