Hello Friday!  This week has flown by again…one more week until I leave home and head back to school.  This next week is gonna be a little on the stressful side as I tie up all the loose ends and prepare for the trip!  What better way to end a 2,000 mile drive than an Aaron Watson concert right?  That’s what I’m thinking!  Today I want to tell y’all about a budget stretching exercise that I think is amazing.  Let’s talk meal planning!

Not only will planning your meals a week or two in advance result in less stress, it will also save you time and money!  I learned this from my Mom and my Aunt Heather.  They both plan their meals in advance; Mom for one week, Aunt Heather for two!  Why did they start planning in advance?  My Mom started the habit because she hates to work all day and then head home and try to figure out what to fix for supper!  Aunt Heather is an Air Force wife and she found that if she could plan her meals for two weeks the sometimes overwhelming trip to the BX would seem more worth it!  They both were surprised by the amount of money they saved and continued the habit!

Step 1Find yourself something to plan withAunt Heather uses a calendar, Mom uses a white board.

Step 2Decide what you want to eat for the week (or two if you’re ambitious).  Think about the sides that will go along with the dishes as well, get out your recipe books (or computer in our case) and figure out what ingredients you will need.  Be sure when you are thinking about what to fix you account for leftovers, maybe plan to have leftovers on an evening you have a meeting or the kids have a 4-H meeting.

Step 3:  Create your shopping listBe sure to double-check and remove things from the list that you already have in the pantry.  Check and double-check your list to ensure that you don’t make any last-minute grocery store runs during the week because that is where most grocery dollars are spent!  Include at the end of your list any household items you might need to pick up for the week; tin foil, paper towels, etc.

Step 4Post your menu!  Hang the whiteboard or calendar on the fridge.  Your kids will enjoy seeing what they will be having for supper during the week!  Maybe you can get them involved and pick one day a week that each child gets to help choose the recipe and help fix supper for the family….responsibility lesson?  Also, this one might be a long shot for some of you, but maybe if you post the menu and your older children and spouses know that all the ingredients are in the pantry, they will start fixing supper before you get home to surprise you…positive thinking!

By following these 4 steps with diligence you will save money.  My mom has found that she saves nearly $50 per week simply because she doesn’t go to the store repeatedly.  I know from experience that it is sometimes difficult to get out of the Wal-Mart under $30 even if you just went to pick up a tomato. You will also save time because when you go to the store you are in and out with minimal thinking involved!  Among all of the other benefits, maybe the greatest bonus is the fact that no longer will you have to pull out your hair worrying over what to fix each night, how much money you are spending a week and where to cut down your grocery budget!  Bottom line: Plan your menu to save money & sanity!

Wishing you a weekend full of BEEFY meals, budget friendly deals & a fun night out in your favorite pair of heels!

Happy Trails,