Menu planning for stay at home moms

Planning menus can be extremely important to your family for several reasons:

  • Helps you plan and budget your grocery lists
  • Helps save money by planning ahead & using leftovers, etc.
  • Helps insure that your family is eating a balanced, healthy diet

Sitting down and planning a month's worth of menus is a daunting task. But it's a smart thing to do and will reap many rewards for your time and effort. To plan menus for an entire month, it helps to have a cookbook (or a few cookbooks) handy, or get online and browse some of your favorite recipe websites for ideas.

Another helpful idea is to look through your local newspaper at the grocery ads and see what's on sale. Many times you can plan your menus accordingly and save money by buying items that are sale priced.

Once you decide what meals you want to prepare for the next month, write them down or enter them onto a meal calendar. Then go through each recipe and make a list of the ingredients you'll need for each meal item. This will take some time. But don't worry, all this preparation will pay off!

Now, you've planned your menus and made a list of everything you'll need to buy for each one. At this point, you should consult your newspaper again, or a list of sale items if you made one earlier, and try to put your hands on some coupons to use when you buy groceries and household supplies. There are numerous reputable websites that sell coupons at a nominal cost. Well, technically they can't actually sell the coupons, I don't think. But they charge a low cost for their services in collecting, clipping and mailing the coupons to you, so basically it amounts to the same thing.

Couponclippers.com is one such website. eBay always has tons of coupons listed, too. Besides purchasing coupons, there are many website such as Coupons.com where you can print manufacturer's coupons from your computer, free. Another source of coupons is a manufacturer's own website. A lot of companies like Kraft and Betty Crocker almost always have printable coupons available.

So, try to locate and line up the coupons you will need before your shopping trip.

When you plan menus and buy groceries for a month, you'll be saving money by not making several smaller trips to the store. You might intend to dash in for only one item, but how many times do you come out with just that one item? Instead, you'll almost invariably grab some "impulse" items and wind up spending more than you planned. By planning and making one main trip to the grocery store each month, you'll save money, gas and time.

You'll also save time and work when it comes down to actually cooking meals. When you have planned your menus so that it all sort of works together, there is considerable less waste of food and effort. For example, let's say that you have planned to have roast chicken for dinner one evening. Plan your next evening meal featuring a recipe that uses some of the leftover roast chicken from the evening before. Chicken enchiladas, maybe, or chicken salad. A lot of your preparation and cooking time is eliminated on the second go-round because you've already cooked the chicken.

If you're serving meat loaf and mashed potatoes one evening, save out enough of the ground beef to have shepherd's pie the next evening, which you'll top with leftover mashed potatoes from the previous night's dinner.

You get the idea. You can plan and arrange your menus so that they all mesh and work together most of the time. You'll save money, you'll save time, and your family will enjoy tasty, nutritious home cooked meals!