Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Menu Planning Basics: Part 3

Buy Ahead
One of the best things about having a Menu Plan each week is that it can save your family a lot of money in the long run. Knowing exactly what's for dinner removes the possibility of becoming frazzled at 5 oclock and turning to take-out. How much money would our families save if we only ate out once month instead of once a week? I've heard it time and time again: "It's cheaper for my family to eat out than it is to go to the grocery store and buy the ingredients myself." While this may be true for certain meals and even certain items, it is not usually true. Let me give you an example.

One of the staples in most peoples homes is bagged, frozen chicken. At my local grocery store the regular non sale price of a bag of Chicken is $11.99. That's ridiculous and I would NEVER buy Chicken at that price but some people do. And some people do on a regular basis. At that same grocery store they will often run sales on the bags of chicken, sometimes as low as $4.99! That is a $7/bag savings. If you buy enough to last you for 3 months (Sales usually run on a 3 month cycle) that is a savings of $42 every 3 months or $168 a year and that is just on ONE item in your pantry! Again, you may not need 6 bags of chicken right now but you will over the course of the next 3 months.

Not only is it saving us money to stock up when something is on sale, but having that item in your stockpile provides convenience when planning your weekly meals. Each week, take inventory of what items are on hand and plan from that. Let's say, you have plenty of Chicken, Pasta and Frozen Vegetables that were stocked up on while they were on sale. Start your menu plan from those items that are already in your kitchen and go from there.

When you are saving $100's of dollars on the staples, you have room in your budget to try that new recipe you've been eyeing and get creative a few days of the week. A few small changes, like creating a stockpile, can really expand your horizons as well as your pocket book.

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