Before a Meal Menu
Becoming organized has been a MAJOR part of transitioning into adulthood over the years. I believe that it can be brought into every aspect of life. So, I have found a way to apply it to the kitchen and our weekly meals: using a meal menu.
I would like to think that my husband and I are not the only people who like to enjoy our dinners and vary up the types of meat and sides we have most days of the week. But, planning dinner last minute always leaves me feeling rushed.
We have been living together for about four years and, luckily, we enjoy eating pretty much the same types of food for dinner, so that was never an issue. Many people might find this as a relief, but I would find it so annoying that every time I would ask him, “What do you want for dinner?” about five minutes before I left for work, he would always reply, “I don’t care”. And, he honestly does not care. But, I do!
So, I would end up grabbing anything (usually what was closest to the front) from the freezer. I’d just let it thaw out while we were at work. More than half of the time, though, my mind would change. I would think to myself, “Ugh, we had fish yesterday,” or, “Wait, he took ground beef to work today. He won’t want to eat it twice.” I’d end up either throwing together a meal that didn’t truly fulfill what were craving. Or, I would end up running to the store to get whatever I HAD to make last minute.
>>Related: Planning a Kitchen Renovation
Wasting Food & Money
Aside from thawing out meat that I didn’t want to cook out of my impulse decision from the morning, we also came to find that we were buying food while we were food shopping that we didn’t end up making within the week. Now, my husband and I enjoy the time we spend together shopping. We both have a great love for food and trying new things (that’s what makes Trader Joe’s so amazing! They always have new items monthly).
But, we would forget about “great items” we purchased… stuffed in the back of the fridge, the vegetable drawer, on the door of the freezer, or in the basement pantry. This was happening with a few items each week and we were either throwing out spoiled food (that would have been delicious!). Or, we were accidentally buying doubles of things as the weeks went on. When finding the food, we constantly found ourselves sharing, “I forgot we bought that!” I had had enough.
After Implementing a Meal Menu
Living Organized & Money Savvy
Finally, I decided to make a weekly meal menu with a shopping list attached that we could add to in preparation for the next shopping trip. By doing this, I could tackle the food for the week in two ways:
- Write down the meals we want to have for the week on the meal menu before food shopping. This is so I knew EXACTLY what to buy and we didn’t end up spending more than we needed to spend.
- After getting home with the groceries, compile meals using the food we chose at the store. This helps us be sure to use anything that could go bad in a few days (i.e. fruits and veggies).
Overall, we have been spending less money weekly if we stick to a list we made (about $15-30). Also, we have thrown out WAY less food than usual, and there is less pressure to worry about what to cook last minute before I am running out to work in the morning! Honestly, the last reason has been the best result of all!
>>Related: 5 Major Money Habits to Form
Sound like something for you? Download my FREE weekly meal menu pack (3 colors!) that I created and see if it works for you!
In order to save paper and not fill in one every week, I printed a pretty colored copy, put it in a dollar store frame, and glued magnets to the back.
It hangs on the front of my fridge and I use dollar store dry erase markers to fill everything in!
Just wipe it away at the end of each week and plan your next week!
Are you ready to start organizing & saving money each week?