Why I Menu Plan

 

Thursday night was an eventful night here….and not just because of that ridiculous Bears game. 🙂 The girls typically get to stay up on Thursday nights to watch Wipe Out with us. And it also just so happened to be the night before payday for Arthur, so I was busy menu planning while making a grocery list and watching for coupon match-ups as well.

I was tempted several times to put away the grocery list and menu plan and just relax on the couch to watch everyone else as they flipped the channels between the game and the game show. BUT, even as much as I’d like to say I put my family first, I stuck with my plans. I don’t feel like I was putting the grocery planning before the family because if we had gone out Friday morning with no list and no plan for meals….it would have been a DISASTER!

I have complained to my husband several times how difficult it can be to menu plan. Yes, I have a TON of recipes and TONS of favorite recipes, but to make up meals with what’s on sale AND stick to about 80% organic and/or fresh foods can become very difficult, especially when it’s for a family of 6 (I don’t know how moms of more maintain sanity every week/month with the grocery list and menu plan!).

So, after trying to reassure myself that spending that hour or two (or more, if I get distracted in the middle of planning…which is pretty normal) planning out our meals, I decided to share with you WHY I menu plan.

1. It saves us MONEY.

I love knowing almost exactly how much money I will be spending at a store before I go. After buying organic for almost a year now, I know prices for almost every item we regularly buy or what will be on sale when. And thanks to other ladies that post the weekly specials/deals, I can plan even more in-depth the monetary aspect.

Listing out our meals helps me know the specific items to check for in my pantry/fridge/freezer. Whatever we are missing, I can write on my grocery list (and the AMOUNT we’ll need) and be sure to have everything on hand the night I need to cook that meal. It also helps avoid having duplicates of things if I inventory what we already have before I put it on the list; for weeks when we have to stretch the food budget a few extra days, having duplicates of things is wasteful for us and money that could’ve been spent on needed items.

2. It saves me TIME.

My kids are still pretty young, so we do not have a bunch of sports’ practices to go to or lessons to attend. We do have a husband/father that has a different work schedule; he can often end up working evenings but only finding out the day before. We also are becoming more active at church, with AWANA having started for the kids. And, of course, with homeschooling we are busy with library trips and teaching for a majority of the weekday. This can lead to little time to think about dinner.

Menu plan allows me to have crockpot meals listed or easy/quick meals planned out, so that on hectic or unexpectedly crazy days I can just throw together a healthy meal. If I didn’t have the list of meals, I would probably waste an hour trying to find a meal, then trying to gather the ingredients, then putting it all together. And, of course, when you have kids…you don’t get a straight hour to stand around in the kitchen. Someone has to potty or is fighting or spilling something. 🙂 Time is valuable here….and I have none to waste.

Another time-saving idea related to this is to group the pantry items needed for a certain meal TOGETHER in the pantry. I think most people group like items together in their pantries, but I have noticed if I group together the canned/dry goods that belong to one meal it cuts back even a couple of seconds or minutes searching the shelves for each ingredient.

3. It saves PLANS.

Since we committed to eating better last Fall, menu planning has been a huge help with sticking to it. Menu planning can help you stick with whatever eating “plan” you have , whether organic eating, more fresh foods, gluten-free eating, dieting, or another way of eating.

Because we try to incorporate a lot more fresh foods and non-processed items, menu planning is crucial. Meals with fresh foods and items that will take me a little more time to prepare usually include a lot of ingredients. Between seasonings/spices and the veggies or fruits involved, there tends to be more than a meal that includes a box of Hamburger Helper (that is already seasoned and has almost all the ingredients in the box!). There is no way I could remember to buy all the ingredients without my list….which I couldn’t make without my menu! No menu and then no list would mean I’d probably just resort to buying pre-packaged foods and skipping a lot of the fresh stuff. OR, I would try to remember some meals and grab some fresh items only to later find that I forgot to buy a number of things (see “It save me TIME” above).

Thankfully, we don’t have any food allergies in our household, but I can imagine that avoiding certain foods would be difficult if you have no plan for the meals that exclude those foods.

In conclusion, menu plan might seem dorky. It might seem time-consuming. It might seem boring. And it typically is all three of those things. 🙂 BUT, it also helps cut back on last-minute (and usually unhealthy) food choices as well as saves time and money.

And with this economy and our continually growing family, we cannot afford to waste time, money or our health!

 

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