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.



10 thoughts on “Do you menu plan?

  1. We do Menu Plan…but I’ve never quite been able to last fortnightly between supermarket visits. Do you buy ‘perishables’ (milk and bread, fruit) at a market/corner store or similar? That’s our downfall – ducking out for milk and somehow spending $40 on peripherals…

    • Ah, I cheat. We have Aussie Farmers’ delivery – milk, bread, eggs, bacon and steaks. Mr S looks after that. Twice a week it’s milk and bread. The other stuff comes once a fortnight. Aussie Farmers aren’t cheap but they stop you having to duck in, important when time poor, and saves putting other stuff in the basket.

  2. We menu planned – this past month or two, not so much! And we’ve seen a dip in the grocery spend, but the BF’s seen an upswing in lunch costs (things we do alone, we pay for out of our money, not shared money, but groceries are 50:50). We’ve done some ad hoc shops, but it seems we’re not very impulsive in adding items πŸ™‚ The breakdown is I seem to be responsible for the online ordering, and if I don’t do it, well it doesn’t get done. But Mr does most of the cooking!?

    • I couldn’t stand the stress of what shall we cook tonight. I have a friend who stops at the shop every afternoon after work to buy the night’s dinner. All that wasted time in a supermarket alone would exhaust me!

  3. Completely off topic, but I love those clothespins on your fridge. What a great idea!

    I menu plan halfway, in that I plan to make big portions of something (usually a casserole and/or soup) on Sundays. We use those for lunch and some dinners so I only have to cook 2-3 times during the week. My pantry and freezer are decently stocked so I could go a while without shopping, though I would run out of fresh produce and milk.

    The San Clemente postcard reminded me – I got your postcard a ways back! It was lovely, thank you for thinking of me πŸ™‚

    • Nothing is off-topic, Amanda. They’re just asides. And I love asides.

      The magnetic pegs were a gift and are great. My fridge front used to get full of school notes and bills and menu plans. Not so much nw.

      Glad you noticed your postcard. You had already thanked me for mine, and I remember being shocked at how long it took whereas yours came quickly. Our post is hopeless but things seem to come quickly from America. I sent a tiny package to another state recently. It finally turned up weeks later!

  4. Yes, I meal plan – badly. It was tricky when Sir Reg was working rotating shifts. It’s a bit easier now that he’s home and doing the bulk of the cooking. Mayhem is a pillock with food – everything is greeted with “I doan like it” so we sat down as a family and came up with a list of meals we’ll all eat (I can always get curry or Thai for lunch) and I’ve been only buying the missing ingredients from the meal plan. I used to shop once a month at the supermarket and just get F&V and meat weekly (we do Aussie Farmers as well – totes soul sisters!) BUT I was finding I’d still duck into the supermarket and spend $100. So now, I’m trying once a week shopping with a goal of spending less than $200 each week and not throwing anything out!

    It is strange going to the fruit shop and buying 20 apples, two carrots, one lemon, one potato though.

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