The frenzied lifestyles we lead these days barely give us any time to think of what we will be having for the next meal of the day. But with some effort, you can easily chalk up a menu (for a week or two) that is nutritious and cost effective as well. A menu plan not only helps you save a whole lot of money, but it also lets you know what you will be eating.
It is far more healthier to have an idea of what you will be preparing, instead of pulling out the first thing you see in the pantry/freezer and deciding to make a meal out of it. To create a menu plan that saves time and money, here are some tips that you can follow:
The first step of menu planning is to find out what you have in hand. Make a mental note of the meals you can prepare using what is available in the freezer, pantry and fridge. Prepare a shopping list of the things you have to buy to help you shop smartly, avoid impulse purchases and save money and time. Remember the essentials like fresh fruits, cereal and milk which you always buy.
Before you set out, plan your expenses. Have a look at the grocery ads and food coupons you already have. Maintain a price book in which you record how much things cost at different stores to help you know where you will find the best bargains for different items.
When you plan the menu for different meals, pay attention to serving enough vegetables and fruits and remember to balance your meals. Keep note of the requirements of your family, based on their ages, activity rates etc to ensure that food does not get wasted. The trick to make a meal appealing is by offering a variety that is both tasty and nutritious.
While planning a menu, you should think of how you will utilize leftovers. Leftovers can come handy on a day when you don't have time to do elaborate cooking. Making use of a part of a meal to make a completely new meal can help you reduce your cooking time and food costs.
There are bound to be times when you will have to come up with quick alternatives when things don't go according to plans. A hectic day at work, your kid's illness, surprise visitors at home or weeks when you need to stretch the paycheck are situations when you should be prepared to make changes to your menu and reschedule your plans accordingly.
When our fast paced routines give us no time to breathe, having a menu plan means one less thing to worry about. With a clear plan of healthy and cost-effective meals for the day and week, you can be content about taking care of your family's dietary requirements without spending too much money.