Organize your Menus and Cooking Schedule
Busy schedules can make it difficult to plan weekly menus that are quick, easy, nutritious and economical. If you are trying to cook every evening for your family to save money and eat better, a little planning can go a long way towards keeping things simple.
One of the best ways to insure that your food budget stays under control is to always stick to what’s on sale. Not only will this help you save, but it is also generally the best way to get the highest quality food. For example, when shopping for produce, whatever is in season is usually the best budget buy. But, it’s also usually the tastiest and best quality, as opposed to pricier out-of-season selections that were shipped long distances and are pale imitations of what they would be in season.
Planning ahead for your weekly menu will also help you take advantage of sales on items such as meats and canned goods. Although busy families often don’t have time to clip coupons, getting the Sunday paper or checking out grocery store ads online can be a great way of planning your meals around foods that are on sale. For example, if chicken is on sale, stock up so that you can plan to cook several meals based on chicken as the main ingredient, even if you don’t plan to eat all the meals in the same week. After all, planning ahead will allow you to freeze meals such as healthy chicken chili or barbeque chicken sandwich filling ahead of time to save time the following week. Of course, canned goods last a long time unopened on the shelf, so when you find a good sale, you should definitely stock up.
Choosing one day to do the bulk of your weekly cooking is another way to get organized. Even if you don’t cook each meal to completion, spending a day getting prepared can help you get the time-consuming parts out of the way. For example, it doesn’t take any more time nor does it dirty any more dishes to brown several pounds of hamburger that you can use for several meals during the week than it does to simply brown one pound for one meal. Since the meat is often the part of the meal that takes the longest to cook, getting this part out of the way in one cooking session can be a great time-saver. Using this method, you can use one skillet for poultry, and one skillet for beef, and cycle through the majority of your meat cooking for the week, while only needing to wash two skillets when you are done.
Using recipe sites on the Internet are another great way of doing your weekly meal planning in the most efficient manner possible. Most of these sites will let you search for recipes by keywords, making it easy for you to find great recipes for whatever ingredient was on sale. Many of these sites also have convenient features that also let you print a shopping list for the ingredients.