Tired Of Throwing Out Food? Try This Old-School Trick That's Back In Fashion - Menu Planning
Updated: Sep 8, 2020
When the clock approaches 5:00 p.m. do you start worrying about what to have for dinner? Then you look in the fridge and there is food, but you still have no idea what to cook? Are you tired of throwing out food that has gone limp or out of date? If so, try this old-school trick that's back in fashion — menu planning.
Menu planning is a great way to keep a few things in check... It makes sure you are eating a balanced diet, using what is in your fridge or pantry. And, as every frugal cook knows, menu planning can save you time and money.
Benefits of Menu Planning
You can have a big impact on your health — and your budget —With menu planning you know what your meals will look like, you can plan meals with fruit & veg that is season and buy what you need. That makes grocery shopping more efficient and cuts down on unplanned trips to buy one or two items. And with a grocery list in hand — a by-product of good menu planning — it is easier to resist impulse purchases.
Menu Planning Basics
Menu planning does not have to be complicated. To get started, jot down some of your favourite meals. Cooking for a family? Ask them to suggest menu ideas, too.
For more inspiration, flip through cookbooks or check out recipe websites. Plan a week of meals at a time. Be sure to include side dishes as well as entrees and some healthy desserts, too. I always have a couple of things that I make in bulk on a Sunday like a soup, salad and snack for lunches during the week. So, make sure you plan those in too. When you have your menu plan filled in, create a shopping list of the ingredients you will need. In case you don't have a menu planner here is a nice simple one to get you started.
Some Things To Consider As You Choose Menu Options
Calendar Check - Determine what nights you will have time to cook and what nights you'll only have time to reheat leftovers or serve something from the slow cooker.
Look For Specials. - What is on special this week at the supermarket? This can save $$
Shop Your Pantry That can of beans at the back of the cabinet could be the starting point for any number of healthy meals.
Think Seasonal - What fresh produce is available this time of year? Is it salad season or soup weather?
Mix Things Up - Keep the menu interesting by planning some meatless meals or substituting a breakfast for a dinner. Alternate new recipes and old favourites.
Get Into The Menu-Planning Routine
Like any new habit, menu planning gets easier with practice. Over time, you will figure out ways to make the process work for you and when is the best day/time plan. In the meantime, here are some tips and tricks from seasoned menu planners:
Try A Theme Or Two - Do not start from scratch every week. For example, designate Mondays as pasta nights and Thursdays as chicken nights. Plan to try new recipes on these nights to mix things up a bit.
Plan for and polish off leftovers. Have extra pasta on Monday? That can be reheated for lunch on Tuesday. Leftover chicken on Thursday? Use it to top a salad, fill a sandwich or add to a soup on the weekend.
Recycle Your Menus. Do not throw away your menu plan at the end of the week. Instead, hold on to it and reuse it later.
Be flexible -Your menu is not written in stone. Feel free to swap things around. Or designate one night as "Dependszo Night" Depends what is in the fridge and use that night to clear out the fridge by making a pasta, omelette’s, a casserole, stir-fry or salad.
Lastly, when your done planning and shopping take a moment to feel good knowing that menu planning is making it easier for you. And give yourself an extra pat on the back for saving money while you are at it!