Thursday, September 8, 2011

Menu planning = saving money

Since I don't really have any great recipes to share today and my brain is getting overloaded with apple thoughts, I'll share a few tips that I hope will help my girls when they're on their own in a few years.

First off, make a menu plan for the week.  Or month.  One way to plan for the month is to designate each day a specific type of meal then you can pick from that.  A few examples, Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday (anything Mexican works), Fish Friday (I think I'd have a revolt on my hands is I did this).  This way, if you know on Wednesdays you cook a pasta dish, it takes a bit less thinking to menu plan since you only need to think through pasts dishes.  I don't tend to plan this way.  I usually try to sit down on Sunday and plan the meals for the week.  I made up a chart in Excel that had each day down the left side and Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner across the top.  I found a really cool one online but couldn't find it again so I had to make my own (which isn't as pretty).  I do pretty good getting stuff for dinner, I just forget about breakfast and lunch which is why they're on the menu.  Since the girls and I are home for lunch most days, I need to remember to plan for this.  Plan the weekly menu, then only buy what you need. 

Tip #2, use coupons judiciously.  Don't buy stuff just because you've got a coupon, buy it because you need it/eat it/will use it.  If you need more tips on couponing, there's lots of websites/blogs out there.  I'm not a fanatic about it but I do try to coupon.  I run into problems because of tip #3, buy store brands.  For most things, I find store brands to be indistinguishable from national brands.  There are some things I like store brands better, like boxed mac & cheese.  There are a very few things that I only buy the national brand.  Chocolate chips are one, must have Nestle, Cheerios are another; the store brand just isn't as good. 

I try to shop at Aldi when I can although I don't try to go out of my way to shop there.  You need to be careful shopping at places like Aldi and BJs/Costco.  Sometimes although Aldi is inexpensive overall, you can sometimes find better deals at the grocery store.  For example, pasta on sale is always cheaper at the grocery store than Aldi.  You just need to be price aware and know what's a good deal and what may not be.

OK, I lied, I do have a a quick recipe to share.  My girls love veggies, all sorts of veggies.  I had bought a really nice head of cauliflower at the farmer's market on Sunday.  I fixed a roast, roasted cauliflower and apple sauce for dinner.  For the cauliflower, I cut it into thick slices, drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper, and cooked on a baking sheet for about 20 min. in a 425* oven.  Yum!

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