When I worked full time I somewhat planned the week's menu. I cooked some type of casserole or large dish on Monday, Wednesday was religiously crockpot day (usually chicken stroganoff), Tuesdays and Thursdays were usually leftovers, Friday was pizza or something else easy and fast. But it was not really stressful to me because if I didn't have time to think about it, we could just go out or order out.
But now that I am staying at home, I don't have the flexibility in our budget to just wing it. We can't afford to eat out or order pizza regularly and I am trying to have more healthy options.
Money is a big consideration. I really need to have my grocery budget under $250 a month for our family of five. Guess how many times that has happened? (never)
But, I'm getting closer!
I have tried couponing and such, but I stink at it and still somehow manage to spend over id="mce_marker"00. Plus I wind up buying things I don't need or wouldn't usually get and it takes me HOURS.
But menu planning... this is a concept, if followed properly, can really help me scale back my grocery budget and reduce my daily stress of what to make for dinner. Whether you work full time or stay at home it can still be a challenge!
But it is overwhelming to start! You would think it would be easy. It doesn't sound like a difficult task.
However, it can be time consuming, especially when trying to match sale items with the weekly menu. I failed miserably for the first month or so of my "menu planning" and meals continued to be a stressful endeavor each day.
And then a Groupon fell into my lap for Emeals.
I really do!
Emeals will create a weekly mealplan (based on some criteria you set up for your family) AND will match your grocery list to the weekly sales at your local grocery store! LOVE IT! (There is a small annual fee, but look for Groupons and other savings to significantly reduce the price.)
Emeals saves me the time of figuring out good, lowfat meals with ingredients that are based the sale items that week at my neighborhood Publix!
Each Wednesday, Emeals sends me a PDF with my meals for the week, the recipes, and my grocery shopping list. Makes this momma of 3 little ones very, very happy! I would have loved this when I was working too!
The best part is, they provide seven recipes but we usually only need 4-5 of them because there are usually plenty of leftovers. So, my grocery bill is less than the estimate and I match coupons with whatever I can.
Now, if you do not want to pay for someone else to do your work and you have the time or desire to figure it out on your own, I subscribe to OrgJunkie.com. This free resource provides Menu Planning Monday, which I really like and find good inspiration. Through this blog I also came across a link to Skinny Mom's Kitchen and her blog post Beginner Menu Planning Tips. This is really an excellent resource for someone trying to learn to Menu Plan, especially if you are organizationally challenged, like I am!
So, bottom line, if you're tired about being stressed out about what to make for dinner and trying to cut costs on your grocery bill, I highly recommend Menu Planning. If you're overwhelmed with your life and want someone else to tell you what to put on your menu, definitely checkout emeals!
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