Creating a meal plan is extremely important to saving money and starting a smart shopping habit. Some families like to meal plan by the month, others by the week and for a select few, there is a nightly meal plan. There are certain benefits to each one of these types of meal plans as well as certain drawbacks. No matter what style you choose, each one will save you money and time when it comes to healthy dinners.
These meal plans are extremely helpful for families on the go. Monthly meal plans help big families and active families to see what is for dinner on any given night. It also allows those who are doing the planning to fit certain foods around the monthly schedule. For instance, on a night where both kids need to be in different places within thirty minutes of each other, pizza might be a good alternative. Monthly menu plans may also include pre-preparation and freezing, making it easier as a grab and go type meal.
That is the way I prefer to monthly meal plan. Create most if not all the meals for the month and freeze them. Take out is no longer necessary if I can just reheat a meal.
Weekly meal plans are usually more typical due to the frequency of store visits. Most families abide by the weekly meal plan, buying just enough food for that week, so a minimal amount goes bad. This meal plan is best for a family that may not be on a tight schedule, but on a schedule none-the-less.
However, for those of us on a tight schedule it’s still possible to do the weekly meal plan. This is how I created Once a Week Cooking to work. Take one weeks grocery list and a few hours in one day to cook up the meals for the week. It will be easier to prepare/reheat the dinners while everyone is running around to their events each evening.
Nightly meal plans offer the most flexibility when it comes to changing your nightly meal plans. These meal plans are usually for people who live near a store or market and are extremely health conscious or happen to walk past fresh foods daily. This specific meal plan usually includes copious amounts of fresh fruits and veggies. Since the meal planner has all day to come up with what they would like for dinner, these meals are usually more in depth when it comes to preparing. Therefore this plan does take more time but it’s also fun for those of us that love to cook. I sporadically throw these meals in just for the fun of cooking for hours on end or having the family help.
Meal planning in itself is a giant cost savings habit. It is a habit because in today’s microwave society, where we want everything instantly, it is extremely easy to stop at the drive through or order out if in a pinch for time. The savings comes in with advanced planning.
If you spend ten dollars a day for food at a restaurant, you can easily spend $200 a month, which equates to $2,400 per year. If you also figure that meal planning allows you to eat those same meals for five dollars a day, you are already saving over a thousand dollars a year.
Food is much less expensive if purchased in a store. Just take a look at the cost of a steak in a restaurant versus buying that same cut in a store and cooking at home. The cost saving is immense.
Sit down and try out each type of meal planning to see which one works best for your family. If you do need a night to eat out, make sure it is in your food budget, so you don’t end up with more month than you have money. No one likes a ramen meal plan if they can help it. Once you have decided which meal plan technique works best for you, find a set time to sit down and write out what you plan on cooking that evening, week or month. Stick to the game plan and watch your cost savings grow.
Never worry about what's for dinner again. I've got you covered with the meal plans in the Once a Week Cooking Club. Cook once, eat all week.
Please be aware that some links used are to affiliates. They are almost always to products I use and love.