February Menu Plan

If you read my monthly menu plan yesterday, you know that I recently fell off the “menu-planning wagon.” Thinking I was “too busy” to mess with the process of planning out meals for the month, I ended up costing my family more time and money in last-minute runs to the grocery store or even trips for take-out pizza. Having re-discovered the value of my meal planning process, I thought I’d take a few minutes to explain why I follow a monthly menu plan.

Of course, there was a time when I never did any type of menu planning—ever—and you can read about that here. Then came the day when I attended a menu planning workshop. After seeing how easy it could be to get our meals organized, I was hooked. Trouble was, I only planned one week at a time. Now, I know you can search Pinterest for all kinds of adorable ways to plan and showcase a weekly menu plan. I even have a few ideas pinned on my Pinterest board, they’re just that cute.

Cost of the Magnetic Calendar
But for me, a monthly menu plan is the way to go, primarily because it helps me save money, especially when you consider that the board itself is pretty cheap. I bought mine in the back-to-school aisle one fall, but they are sometimes available on Amazon here. Of course, they aren’t always available from this supplier, so here are a couple of other magnetized options: Flexible Dry-Erase Calendar and Quartet Dry-Erase Magnetic Calendar. Add in the magnetic printer paper, and you’re good to go! (I love the magnetic paper, by the way. I sometimes get in a menu-planning rut, but seeing all the meals on the refrigerator beside my menu board helps me keep variety in our diet.)

Saving Money on Groceries
But even beyond the cost of the board and paper, a menu plan by design will save your family money. Let’s say I know that we’re having meatloaf, which I make with ground beef and pork sausage. I can watch for deals on sausage early in the month, buying my meat on sale instead of at the last minute…which is almost never a good strategy for saving money!

Or say I’m serving fried chicken—one of my husband’s favorites! If I see that chicken breasts are on sale, I can buy them ahead of time. Or take Chicken & Wild Rice Soup. If I know I’m making it that month, and I come across coupons for wild rice, I can stock up and save! Well, you get the idea.

Flexibility
The other reason why I follow a monthly menu plan is for flexibility. Let’s face it. Sometimes I just hate following a rigid plan. I want to follow my heart, let the spirit lead me, fly by the seat of my pants (okay, that’s my husband’s way to describe it!). If I decide, as I did today, that I want to serve Chicken & Wild Rice Soup on Monday instead of Friday, I can.

This worked especially well for me, since I had forgotten the brief window of time between the library craft program today at 4:00 p.m. and the kids’ swim club at 6:00 p.m. By making the soup ahead of time, I could walk in the door after the library, ladle out soup bowls, and rush out 30 minutes later for swim. Even better, I had made these lovely little homemade cloverleaf rolls with my Jambalaya yesterday, and we had leftovers. By switching my meals around, I could serve the rolls again (with soup) before they got stale.

Plus, I already had all the ingredients I needed, so it’s totally okay to switch things up if I choose. Ironic, isn’t it? By following a plan, I actually have greater flexibility than if I never gave dinner a moment’s thought—until 4:30, that is, when it’s way to late to be flexible!

How about you? What’s your reason for menu planning? Be sure to leave a comment below.

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