grocery savings | organisation and preparedness

getting more from your menu plan

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getting more from your menu plan Conventionally, a menu plan is a tool used for planning what you are going to eat and when you are going to eat it.

I know that can sound tediously boring but a menu plan takes the guesswork, last-minute stress and last minutes shopping out of cooking dinner every night.

You can take your menu planning one step further and make life that little bit easier by using it to plan food preparation in advance as well.

Cooking food from scratch takes a little extra effort and a little extra time than opting for convenience foods.

That’s the pay-off for eating healthy, whole food and saving money at the same time.

While we may all agree the pay-off is worth it, some days it’s easier said than done.

Which is where being prepared comes in.

Below is our menu plan for a fortnight. It helps to see a plan in action to understand what I mean.

As well as planning ahead what we’re going to eat each night and writing a shopping list at the same time to ensure we’ve got all the ingredients on hand, I also note down when we’re going to be out of the house, when we’re going to be busy or any upcoming special occasions and make notes to remind myself to prep ahead in order to take the stress out of those busy days.

I don’t plan breakfasts, lunches or snacks, but I do occasionally plan ahead what we’ll bake on baking day (see below).

It seems a bit full on, but the whole process only takes about 10 minutes a fortnight, less if you recycle menu plans.

a recent fortnightly menu plan

  Notes
Fri (out)Roast pumpkin, caramelised onion and feta quiche with salad(*Cut pumpkin and onion at breakfast time. Cook in the morning and reheat to serve.
*Pack as a picnic (weather permitting)
*Defrost chicken for tomorrow)
Sat (out)Paprika chicken(*Prep veg in the morning.
*Photograph for blog.)
SunVegetable curry and rice 
MonLamb chops and veg(*Defrost chops)
TuesRice and cabbage casserole(*Defrost chicken for tomorrow.
*Make cottage cheese in the afternoon.
*Cut meat and veg and store in fridge for tomorrow’s stir fry.
*Photograph for blog.

 

*Baking: Banana, oat and choc muffins)

Wed (out)Chicken Stir Fry 
Thurs (arvo visitors)Easy cheesy vegie pasta 
FriSpaghetti Bolognaise(*Defrost lamb mince)
Sat (out)Fish wraps(*DH to cook)
SunChicken pilaf(*Defrost chicken and stock)
MonRatatouille and cous cous with beans(*Cut vegetables in the morning.
*Defrost sausages for tomorrow.)
TuesSausage and bean stew(*Bulk up with lots of veg, freeze 1/2.
*Prep in morning and use slow cooker. 
*Cook rice and prep rissoles for tomorrow.
*Baking: apple and almond meal muffins)
Wed (out)Tuna rissoles 
Thurs (arvo visitors)Surprise night 

As you can see, Wednesdays, for instance, we are out of the house and busy, so I prep dinner the day before to make cooking quick and easy. A stir fry takes minutes to cook, but ages to cut all the vegetables and meat. By doing all the chopping the night before, dinner is on the table minutes after we get home and we’re still eating frugally yet healthily.

I’m the first to admit that I don’t like to think too much about these things each day. Having notes stuck to the fridge takes the thinking out of dinner preparation (at least, I only have to think once a fortnight rather than every day), but it still gets done.

P.S. If you’re wondering why our week starts on a Friday, that’s when DH gets paid and so that’s when I do the grocery shopping – our menu planning fortnight starts with a full kitchen. Surprise night on the last Thursday is to use up any leftovers that may be lurking in the fridge.

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10 Comments

  1. That is hardcore. I am so bad at planning ahead when it comes to food. To compensate, I just make giant batches of everything I cook so that I don’t have to keep on running out to the shops.

    1. LOL, I don’t usually think of it as hardcore – I’m all for making life easier and this helps me to do that :). I would love to make big batches of stuff more, but we don’t have the freezer space – tonights dinner is defrosted vege curry from last week though, so an easy one tonight!

    1. I’m not always this organised :), but it does make life easier if I am. If I don’t start dinner prep early, I get lazy and opt for takeaway. That’s not an option at the moment, so have to be more organised.

  2. I think this is great very organised. For someone who is very lazy when it comes to anything in the kitchen (except cake lol) I think I could actually do this if I sat down and made a shopping list (which I never do) and write up a menu I’d stick to it for sure and save ALOT of money. The other night I was too lazy to cook and got red rooster omg it was $34 for 3 meals 1 in which was a kids meal!!!

    1. I can’t cope without a shopping list and menu plan – otherwise we opt for takeaway too often as well – our budget buster!

  3. Thankyou so much for the ideas
    Your site is great (and i love that I found an Aussie site too!)

  4. I know this is an old blog but i think this is one of the most easy and important ways to save money!! I have proved for myself how much time and money you save by planning meals and shopping fortnightly. When you don’t you often have to go to the shop between paydays and you are much more likely to buy one or two things you didn’t intend to! Planning what you will eat for dinner for two weeks doesn’t take long and it makes doing a shopping list much easier and then all you have to do at night is check the diary and put the ingredients together!

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