Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: Meal Planning


Just a few years ago, my husband and I were dumping tons of money into eating out. My first year of teaching was tough and I often spent many hours after school helping students, planning lessons and preparing for the next day. There were plenty of times I didn't get home until well past 5 o'clock even though my work day ended at 2. My husband, an accountant, would get home even later than myself and we would both be mentally and physically spent. Dinner was the last thing we wanted to deal with. So we ate out. A lot. And as a result, we spent money. A lot of it.

Last year I decided I was sick of "throwing away" money by eating out all the time. I knew I was still going to have long work days and now my husband has a new job and sometimes his days are even longer than before. But I didn't want that all to be excuses for why we had no choice but to eat out.

So I started menu planning. At first, I planned out our dinner meals a few days in advance. I'd check the freezer and the sales ads to see what I had on hand and what was inexpensive that week. This was the basis I used to plan my meals.

Now I'm up to planning for an entire week. Every Saturday or Sunday, I start to plan out what we want to eat that week. If I have lots of veggies from the garden, I add them in somewhere. If steak tips are finally at a reasonable price, I'll stick those in and make sure I stop at the store to get 'em.

This has prevented my husband and I from leaning on our expensive lazy-crutch too often and eating out. We still eat out once a week as a treat to ourselves. We know if our financial situation changed, we could easily cut that out. By doing this, we've saved ourselves thousands of dollars in the last year. And I know exactly what I'm putting in my body because I made it!

Menu planning helps me see what I need to get at the store on my weekly trip. Seeing my menu plan posted on my refrigerator serves as a reminder to defrost my meats on time. And if a meal I make lasts more than one night, then I simply send one planned meal to the next week! For instance, I made eggplant parm last week and it lasted us 2 nights, so I took one meal I had planned and saved it for next week (we're away this week).

Benefits of Meal Planning
  • Saves you money
  • Can be a family affair - cook together!
  • Helps you to use things you have on hand
  • Can be healthier - you know exactly what you're eating!
  • Builds routine into an already hectic world

So consider all the benefits of meal planning and give it a try.
Feel free to use my meal planning template!





Happy Couponing!
-Coupon Mama Massachusetts

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