I'm writing this on Friday, but (Blogger scheduling willing) it will get posted on Monday.
What day of the week do you do your weekly/biweekly menu planning on? Uh, what? You don't plan them a week or more in advance? Oh, dear - menu planning is pretty easy, and I think it's vitally important for both physical and financial wellness reasons.
If you don't have a set food budget, and if you don't menu plan, you will easily spend twice as much as you would spend with a budget and planning.
If you don't plan your meals, you will let your wild untamed appetite decide what you will eat every meal. And on the whole, your appetite will choose things that are fast, fatty, and sweet. It's going to say "Feed me! Now! Pizza or wings, or a burger, fries and a shake, or.... all of them! Now!" Even if you're vegan, it's going to go for fried onion rings fast rather than have you cut and stirfry veggies and tofu and make a brown sauce.
So, let's plan!
First stop is to do a check of the fridge for leftovers. Here, today, that means lots of smoked brisket (that I spent 9+ hours on yesterday - we do NOT do this often!), a over a quart of chili, a huge cabbage, 3 cups of rice, 8 apples, 8 oranges, a quart of vanilla yogurt, half a dozen eggs, a pound of sliced turkey breast, etc.
Okay - lunches are in place (the chili & turkey breast), and three dinners (the brisket will be used for great BBQ sandwiches one day, and fried rice another day - I'll freeze the rest for one meal a week until the end of May, and omelettes).
A check of the freezer - lots of beef, one small frozen chunk of raw salmon, assorted chicken pieces, egg roll filling, raw pork destined for chinese dumplings (very time intensive!), lots of stock, lots of bacon (it was on sale recently), lot of chicken livers destined for rumaki (again, time intensive), leftover lamb roast, lots of spinach, some broccoli and beans, a big bag of mixed veggies, etc.
I only do ONE very time intensive meal a week.
Now, food ads - what's on sale? None of the stores here start their sales the same day, which is irritating but a fact of life. Let's see - whole chickens are at a good price, but I'll have to buy two. Okay. Pasta. Great! Our family's favorite pasta sauce. Well, that sounds like a plan, doesn't it?
Breakfasts are covered - we have plenty of hot and cold cereal already in place.
So - assorted chicken out of freezer will be fried for dinner tonight, cabbage the veg, rice with it all. Saturday, leftover BBQ on rolls with slaw. Sunday baked chicken, green beans, baked potatoes. Monday, Omelets, salad, fruit. Tuesday Beef fried rice and fruit. Wednesday sushi, miso soup, sprout salad, fruit. Thursday crepes (leftover chicken ones and spinach ones) and salad. Lamb Stew and salad Friday. Pizza Saturday (we've one I brought back from Chicago still in the freezer). Sunday Spag and sauce, salad, Broccoli.
Shopping list: 3 gallons of milk, 2 chickens, bananas, avocados, lettuce, broc, cucumber, a few apples and oranges, orange juice, 4 pounds butter (Costco or BJ's), half & half, eggs, sliced cheese, several bottles of spag sauce, and hubs wants beer. Totals about $70.
No bread, tho' we'll be eating it - I'll make those and don't need flour (I bought it on sale before Easter). One of the chickens will be cut up and go into the freezer for later meals.
And, yes, I've planned meals and made the shopping list for more than just one week. I'm WAY under budget, since I don't need any cleaning supplies or cat food just now - with those things in I allow myself up to $100 a week.
Being under now is how I save money to do the bulk beef and pork buying, the stocking up when things are on really amazing sales, and the splurges we sometimes have.
Potential diet busters this week are the fried chicken (but I'll be baking my piece), the crepes, and the pizza. Pizza I'm handling by splitting one pizza meant for 2 people among 3 people.
The crepes I'm just going to enjoy, but I'll have a bowl of soup as well as a salad before the main course. And I'll probably add a separate vegetable serving of steamed carrots to kick up the color, nutrition, and dilute the fat calories.
See? That wasn't so hard. Just took a few minutes to check what is on hand, what is on sale (oh - I have bookmarked local stores ad pages, but I also get the ads delivered each week in the free local paper), and have at it.
What's on your menu?