The Lost Art of Menu Planning

The Lost Art of Menu Planning Many years ago, I can recall my Mother sitting at our dining room table on Saturday mornings with a notepad, the weekly store ads, and her coupon organizer. She would often get up and go check on something in the kitchen cabinets, and then would return to her notepad and write something down. Later, when she was finished, she would go to the store, usually for no more than 2 hours. Upon her return, she would call for me, and I would help her bring in the brown paper bags full to the brim of that week’s groceries. And that would be the end of the grocery shopping until the next Saturday. Wow! How did she do that? Well, after an especially busy week, which involved frequent runs to the local mega-mart, each trip usually taking a minimum of 30 minutes, not to mention our Saturday afternoon grocery extravaganza, I asked her how she managed to feed all of us with just going to the store once a week. Her answer to this? Menu planning, plain and simple. This seems to be somewhat of a lost art. So she explained to me this simple process, and now I swear by it. As a result, I’m saving hard earned money and valuable time by just making one trip to the store each week.

Here’s how it works. My local store ads come out on Sunday, so Sunday afternoon; I peruse the ads for the best bargains of the week. Then I begin a rough sketch of the menu. Be thorough, include snacks, desserts or any treats you might want to have or make for each day. I use a spreadsheet, but good old fashioned notepads work just as well. This also aids in the use of things that might normally dwell in your pantry for months. Remember those two boxes of wild rice mix you bought because they were cheap? Plan on using them! Work these things into the menu. I usually try to plan out one day of the menu each day of the week, so that when Saturday rolls around, I’m ready to go. I grab my shopping list, menu, and coupons, and head off to the store. I have been doing this for nearly two years, and I cannot even begin to tell you what a difference it has made in our grocery budget! Sure, it might seem like nothing to just pop in the store to grab one or two things as you need them, but by the time you manage to get to the checkout, how many things are usually in your basket? It’s called impulse buying, and the stores are counting on this to kick in! So try it for a month, see if it doesn’t make a difference in your grocery spending, not to mention your time. Plan your menu, shop for it one day a week, and stick to it. I’m willing to bet you save a lot more than you think you will!

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