Meal Planning Board and Preparation

mealplanning

Meal Planning Board and Preparation

Having a menu plan set up for your family will help you save time and money. In this article, I will give you tips on how I plan my menu and keep my grocery budget at a minimum.

  1. Create a Menu Board: this can be done using things you already have around your house. I used an empty cereal box, unfolding it and cutting off the edges to make one flat sheet. Decorate your sheet as desired, with the days of the week listed down the left side. Use cardboard pieces to make your meal labels (ex. Monday: Sheppard's Pie)...this makes your meals easy to switch week by week. Write the name of your meal on these labels (pot roast, casserole, shake n' bake chicken, etc.) Pinterest has a lot of examples and ideas for menu plans also.

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  1. Shopping for your Meal Plan: in Moncton, our weekly flyers become available between Wednesday and Friday. Scan these flyers for sales of items needed for your meals. Base that weeks meals on the sales to make your dollar stretch farther. If possible, match those sales with a coupon to lower the price even more. Keep an eye out for sales on items that we don't normally get coupons for, like fresh meats and produce, for example. Be sure to scan the “reduced for quick sale” shelves in the produce and bakery departments, as many times items are placed there due to close expiry or only a few of the product is bad (example: tomato package or grapes, only a few going bad or soft, but the rest are fine!) Remember, if it is a really good deal, $2/lb ground beef, grab a few, as it can be frozen for future use. 

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  1. Planning your meals: Plan your meals so you have something different everyday of the week, you don't want to get bored or tired of the same thing. Make sure your weekly menu is realistic. We all know that its just not feasible to have roast beef, whole chicken, or turkey everyday of the week. Also keep your schedule in mind when planning your meals. If you have hockey on Wednesday, don't plan to have a turkey dinner on Wednesday. Remember: it is okay to have chicken nuggets and fries every once in a while!

  2. Preparing your Meals: this is where all the real work begins. Dedicate a day of the week where you are available to prepare all your weekly meals. Cut, chop, and dice all your vegetables (if there are leftovers, they can be frozen for future use) Prepare all your meals as if you are making them for that evening, or in a way that they can be thrown together quickly. Fry your ground beef, add your sauces to your chicken, make your spaghetti sauce, etc., and freeze in freezer bags, or containers. Remember to label your freezer bags/containers with the date it was prepared, and the contents.

  3. Cook larger meals and eat leftovers: when preparing a large, hearty meal, like whole chicken, make 2 at a time. This will ensure you have enough, and will give you another meal for that week. Hot chicken sandwiches, chicken sandwiches for lunches, chicken stew or soup, the possibilities are endless!

  4. Crock Pot meals: many crock pot recipes can be prepared in advance and placed in Ziploc bags for your freezer. Put all the ingredients into a freezer bag and remove as much air as possible. Lay flat on cookie sheets to freeze. Once they are frozen, the will stand up in your freezer.

  5. Pancakes, waffles and french toast: this is one of my favorite tips. When making pancakes, waffles or french toast for your breakfast, make the whole package. For pancakes or waffles, make the whole box, lay pancakes/waffles on a cookie sheet to freeze, then store in serving size freezer bags in your freezer. For french toast, use the whole loaf of bread and lay flat to freeze, transfer into freezer bags and store in the freezer.

Check out Ruth Ann's easy Menu Planning strategy, here. Download a printable version here.

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