Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Menu Planning to Save Time and Money

Cathy, over at Chief Family Officer writes about menu planning today. There are so many advantages to planning your menus! For me personally, having planned menus helps me avoid impluse purchases. You know, you go to the grocery store and my, that asparagus sure looks good. And it's on sale! So you buy some, forgetting that your fridge already has enough veggies for the week and buying more means something will go bad.

I use a tool for menu planning called the Menu Mailer. Created by Leanne Ely, the author of the book Saving Dinner: The Menus, Recipes, and Shopping Lists to Bring Your Family Back to the Table, the Menu Mailer is a weekly email containing a menu for the week, along with a shopping list, separated by type of food. For example, all the meat is in one section, the produce, canned goods, etc. Also noted by each ingredient is the day it is used, so if you're not making one of the dishes, you can easily avoid buying the items for it.

I found I was saving money on my grocery bill because I stuck to a list. With the Menu Mailer, dinner was decided already, there was no last minute fuss or desperate dive into the pantry to look for a package of pasta and some jarred sauce (Scarpetta Barely Bolognese, 20-Ounce Jar (Pack of 4)).

Sure, you say, but for $30, I can buy a couple of cookbooks. Why pay for this? Why? Well, Leanne has done all the work! She's done the shopping list, created the recipes, and put it all together in an easy-to-use package. I balked at first, but after actually using it, well, money well spent. I know I saved more than $30 in the first month, just by avoiding impluse dinner buys.

You can try a sample menu, to see if you like it. In addition to the Regular mailer (which is what we use), she also offers a Heart Healthy option, a Low-Carb, a Body Clutter menu to go with her book, written with Flylady Marla Cilley, Body Clutter: Love Your Body, Love Yourself, and a few others. I've been wanting to try the Crock-Pot menu...

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