Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Household Binder: Menu planning

I still can't believe how much time and money menu planning saves. You may not know it yet, but when you start to do the Math you find your pockets full of extra pennies. 

I only started to plan meals this year and I've found it saves money because:
- You go to the store with a list, so there's a high chance you won't buy as many things you don't need. 
- You don't just walk around the supermarket picking up random products you may use that week or may just as well end up being thrown away. 
- By buying only the things you need that week, there's a lower risk of having to throw half your fridge away at the end of the month. 

I also found it saves time (oh, precious time) because:
- You know exactly what you have to get so you don't spend hours in the supermarket thinking of what to cook that week. 
- When it's time to get dirty, you already know what you have to prepare so you can defrost anything you need or make meals the night before and avoid spending so much time thinking about what to make. 

At the end of it all, it's just another easy way to get rid of useless stress asociated to planning what to cook. 

So, let me take you back to that wonderful tool which is the Household Binder. The third section is Menu Planning. I made some custom printables with a whole-month overview calendar to help plan that month's meals. 

I simply print these out (you can download it here and find other printables in the Printables section) and jot down our meals for the week: at the top of each day lunch and at the bottom dinner, like so:

I don't usually plan my breakfast because I usually just eat the same thing everyday, but if you like you can plan that too. 
You can also laminate one copy and dry erase or even stick it to the fridge or a magnetized board and use homemade meal magnets. 

At the moment, during the week I've assigned a certain type of meal to each day. That way I know we're eating at least one meal of each a week. 

Monday: meat and vegetables (or potatoes, stay away from fries!!)
Tuesday: lentil hotpot, chickpea soup, pork stew...(in the winter) or filling salads or cold soups during the summer. 
Wednesday: pasta!! With tomato, carbonara, with brocolli, with cheese sauce...
Thursday: Fish (as we saw yesterday very important) and potatoes. 
Friday: rice: with chicken, with tomato, paella, with vegetables...
Satuday: whatever we feel like
Sunday: roast chicken or leftovers. 

As you can see I get at least one portion of meat, fish, pasta and rice every week and during the winter at least one bowl of pulses. This is usually just for planning lunches. When it comes to dinner, I prefer to keep them light so usually they include meals such as omelletes (if we haven't had eggs or meat that same day), sandwiches, salads, wraps, sauteed vegetables, jacket potatoes...or leftovers. 

Having a day for each dish also makes it easier to decide what to make that specific day, as the amount of possible meals is reduced. When it comes to meal planning, try to make meals with the food you already have at the moment, this way you'll buy less food on your next trip to the store and reduce the probability of having to throw food away. 

When it comes to desserts, I prefer fresh fruits or yoghurts, though I must admit I am also an ice-cream lover during the summer!! 

Now that you know what you're going to make this week, you have to go to the store to purchase all the items you're missing. We'll cover exactly how you should make your list and how you should buy each type of food tomorrow, continuing our Food Week. See you soon!!

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