Thursday, 3 October 2013

Day 3 - How long in advance should I plan my menu?

We're taking this menu planning thing slowly. Carefully considering it, and thinking about how our day-to-day reality will affect it. Remember, this has to be a plan that will work for you, not be just another expectation we cannot meet. Ok? Still psyched? I am.

One of the things you need to decide before we start writing things on paper (!) is: how often do you want to shop?

There are many, many options here, from every day to once a week to once a month. Quarterly shopping can also be useful for certain items. If one of the reasons you want to start a menu plan is to stop having to go to the grocery store everyday, awesome! If you are here because you actually like going to the grocery store everyday, but feel that you shouldn't.....ignore that voice in your head! A menu plan is for people who want a bit of structure and need some time-saving.

Personally I do not enjoy grocery shopping, so I prefer to shop once a week. But I have also experimented with monthly shopping, including produce, which was quite successful, but I find takes a bit more planning. I think the default for most people is weekly, so if you are really just starting out at meal planning, aim for this.

It is important to decide on a regular grocery shopping day, that will fit into your life, based on your work and home schedules. My day is Friday, based on my work schedule, which generally starts on Saturday. I also like this because if we have people for dinner it is usually on the weekend - so I can get all those ingredients in the same shop. I have noticed that Sunday seems to be the busiest day at the grocery store and Tuesday is the quietest. I really like to try to get to the grocery store between 10 - 11am so that it mostly empty.

One other thing to do before you get to meal planning is figure out what you already have. I think everyone has there one thing that they always feel they are out of, and constantly end up with too much. Mine is condiments. My mother's is carrots and jello packets. A great tip is that you can actually use a dry-erase marker to write on your freezer, which is a really easy way to keep track of your frozen meat or vegetables, especially if you have a large freezer. When you start meal planning it's a great idea to include meals that use ingredients you already have. This will save you a lot of money, and if you can get into a pattern of it, you can start buying in bulk and save even more money.

Ok? You ready? Figured out what kind of tool you want to use, and how long you're going to plan for?  Great! Tomorrow we're all going to start our first menu plan!

What day do you do your grocery shopping?


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