Archive | August 26, 2014

Do you menu plan?

Time for a post on frugal living. The need for this will become more obvious in a future post. (Oh, dear readers, I’ve been bad!)

The expenditure that households can save the most money on is the regular grocery shopping.

How so?

Well, we waste so much food. Buying too much and letting it rot before cooking or eating. Cooking more than we need, putting the left-overs in the fridge until the mould growth makes you feel OK about tossing it. Even a very little bit too much leftover adds up over the year. Dishing up servings that are too large is another way we waste food.

There’s plenty of information on food waste. Google and be shocked. Here’s one report.

And food waste is definitely not good for the environment. All that water and energy used in growing produce and raising life stock; processing; transporting.

My first step in reducing the waste, and hence my grocery bill, was menu planning for the week. It also helped as Mr S and I both work, so knowing what we were to cook at night, and whose turn it was, reduced the stress of the evening. We always had a couple of “catch-and-kill-yourself” evenings, otherwise known as left-overs. There was always leftovers in our house, because of cooking too much. And as my boys got older, they asked for left-overs so they could eat them as snacks or for lunch.

Our menu planning wasn’t strict, in that we always had some tins of things and other staples for quick meals, if we didn’t feel like our planned meal or ran short of time. (Cowboy cooking, Mr S calls it. Throw in a tin of this and a tin of that with some chopped onions and some meat and some curry paste or the like.) And we move the meals around depending on evening schedules. I actually use to only write 1 to 7 to make sure I had enough meals.

Once you’ve menu planned, the next step is to write out the shopping list for what you actually need.

These simple steps cut our waste and grocery bill significantly.

After a couple of years of this I made the next jump to fortnightly supermarket and butcher shopping.

How does this save money?

Going less frequently to the supermarket means you are not tempted to buy so much junk and all the impulse buys that jump out at you. And knowing you’re not going to buy more biscuits or other junk the next week, means you make them last a little longer rather than gutsing them in one go. For some reason instead of buying double biscuits, I bought the same amount (who wants to go through the checkout with more than 10 packets of biscuits?) My family didn’t notice, and definitely didn’t feel deprived. Really we were buying and eating too much junk.

And just recently I have lasted three weeks between supermarket visits. Mainly because we have eaten out a bit but also by using up things in the fridge and pantry. My family are so used to having excess in the pantry that a normal pantry looks empty to them. “You better go shopping. There’s nothing to cook.” Oh, just watch – as I made several more dinners. And now with adult children, there will be nights they are not home so dinner for one night becomes dinner for two nights.

All round menu planning is a time saving, money saving, environment saving, sanity saving hint. We also like dishes that can be cooked in double quantities so you get a night off!

Here’s the last and our current menu plan stuck on our fridge. They say only two weeks worth, but I generally extended them by a night or two.

20140806-225620.jpg

IMG_1869.JPG