As a reminder, the 30 Be Intentional baby steps are designed to get you on the right foot, the right track and give you energy, efficiency and organization which will propel you into a life that is able to develop an overall financially smart, happy and frugal home. We encourage couples and families to do these challenges together so the whole house can function well!
As the 30 steps go along, we will be focusing on 5 areas for the Be Intentional Month:
See the full list of baby steps HERE.
Now we are really starting to head into some nitty-gritty of frugal habits you and your household can develop to help you meet your frugal and financial goals!
This next one is probably something you may already be doing, but it is good to be committed to doing it and reminded to do it and perhaps find some new resources or ideas!
Be Intentional Baby Step #23
You probably have heard and even experienced just how an organized and financial smart household menu plans! Well, that’s because it is both!
First, here’s why it’s important to menu plan:
- Saves time
- Saves money by eating out less
- Saves money by using the right tools to help you eat all of the food in your house to prevent food waste
- Saves sanity – sometimes it can be frustrating standing in the kitchen trying to throw something together – often, you want to pull out your hair. Well, spend a few minutes once a week to plan your menu so you can save your hair… I mean sanity!
- Creates a nice dinner and family atmosphere when you have a plan and when you are intentional about meal time. Focus more on family time around the table rather than in the kitchen!
There are literally dozens of different ways to menu plan. We are going to share some ideas along with a favorite weekly menu planning tool that we use that makes our meals frugal, fun, different and saves loads of money by reducing food waste too!
First, here are some common ways to plan a menu:
- Having theme nights each week – for example, Monday is Mexican night, Tuesday is Asian night, Wednesday is Italian Night, Thursday is All-American night, etc. Then based on these themes, you plan foods to go with it. For example, you can take the Mexican night and one night have enchiladas, another Monday have tacos, another Monday have Fajitas, another Monday is taco soup…. etc. and plan out 4-6 weeks worth of menus for each night based on those themes. It is a fun and organized way to plan.
- Take your top 6, 12 or 18 meals (as sample numbers) and rotate through, meaning start at #1 and next day is #2 until you get to the number of meal favorites your family has and then start the list over. This is a very simple one and a great way to ensure that your family is getting their favorites often and it also makes for very easy shopping.
- Planning meals based on the store sales. This is a popular one as many think that this is one of the best ways to save money on your meals. I actually disagree and I do not think it is very productive financially to meal plan this way. It is going to be talked about in another theme in a future month as it is too much information to summarize as to why this isn’t smart, but if you are doing this now, stick with it for now as it is better to meal plan than not at all as it still saves you money, time and your sanity. Then you can see what we are talking about in a later month to see if you want to change your perspective
- Meal plan based on Pinterest and fun recipes you find. Now while this sounds like a fun and exciting way to meal plan, a fun way to try new things and to have some fun in the kitchen, it is also the most expensive one! It is not cost effective to buy recipe ingredients when you need them – that is when they cost the most. However, you can do this frugally if you have a filled pantry and a bit of creativity to change the recipes up to match what you have – then by all means, have at it
- Finally, the way that we meal plan is based on what we have on hand. I do not consider the store flyers when I meal plan, I merely look to my own shelves, fridge and pantry. I LOVE this method as it allows creativity, new things, old favorites, and allows me to stick to my budget, eat healthy, and use up all of my perishables!
So since I do that last one, how do I do it?
I use our “No Food Waste Menu Planner.” This is a FREE download for you to use, so be sure not to miss it and download yours!
We have a full tutorial on how this No Food Waste Menu Planner can work for you to save you tons of time and money. We suggest heading to our original post HERE for the full details.
In addition, we also suggest that you see our Menu Planning Page HERE with many more resources for planning meals and menus!
The point of this baby step is to get into the habit of menu planning no matter how you do it!
One final thing….. we also have a Facebook Group where you can engage in discussions, receive encouragement and talk to others that are participating in the challenges too for more ideas! Head to the Be Intentional with The Thrifty Couple Facebook Page HERE and ask to join us there! You can also invite friends and spouses too!