Friday, September 3, 2010

5 Easy Menu Planning Tips

If you have a family, then one of your biggest expenses is probably the weekly grocery bill. The healthy food we want to feed our families with doesn't come cheap, and prices always seem to be on the rise. But, despite the continual increasing cost of food, and the ever-tightening of family budgets, you can still cut down on your grocery bill by being organized and planning ahead.

Here are some easy menu planning tips for a tight budget.

1. Know what you have on hand right now.

Have you ever had to run to the grocery store for something, only to find out later that you already had it in your cupboard – you just couldn’t find it? Saving money on your groceries starts with organizing what you have on hand right now so you know where it is and can easily find it. Otherwise, you can end up wasting money on items you don't need. Organize your pantry, shelves and refrigerator.

2. Plan your meals in advance.

Before you head out to the grocery store, plan your meals for the next week or two. That way you will know what you need to buy and you won't make any unnecessary purchases. You also won't be tempted to eat out because you'll have everything ready at home to make nutritious meals.

3. Check the grocery store flyers.

When you're planning your meals, flip through the grocery store flyers too. They will tell you what's on sale this week. To save money, plan your meals around items that can be purchased for a good price. When you go to the grocery store, you won't be as likely to spend time looking at more expensive items when you already know what's on sale.

4. Use leftovers creatively.

With a little imagination, one meal can be turned into two by planning to use leftovers. When you plan your meals, organize your menu so that the cooking you do for one meal can become the beginning of another. For example, leftover meatballs from spaghetti and meatball night can become meatball subs the next day.

5. Look at your calendar and plan ahead for busy days.

We all have days where we have limited time in the kitchen, with sports clubs and evening activities. When you're planning your meals, keep an eye on the family calendar so you can plan to accommodate those kinds of days as well. If you have made something ahead of time, or have planned a quick dinner, you will be less likely to eat out or pick up a more expensive item on the way home.

The grocery bill is one of most family's biggest expenses, yet it is also among the easiest to cut down. With some organization ahead of time, you can easily plan meals that will help you save money.

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