Honestly -- how else do you know what to buy when you go to the store? I try to only go to the grocery store once a week, and with my list in hand that is informed by my menu plan, it's the only way I can conceive of doing it.
Plus, I read an article recently on small ways to cut spending and make our households more recession-friendly, and menu planning was one of those tips. You spend less when you plan out ahead of time what you'll be buying. It seems simple and so self-evident, but it really does work.
In fact, my (wonderful) boss, who has a family of four for whom she regularly cooks, told me once that during a meeting in which she and her partner were refinancing their home, she was asked to figure out how much she spends per month on what. And she shocked everyone, including herself, when she did the math and realized she spends (and I am not exxagerating her, folks) $2,000 per month on groceries!!! For a family of four!!! She nearly fell over in her chair, and so did I when she told me. Now, granted: she shops exclusively at Whole Foods. So she's not bargain shopping. BUT the main reason she spends so much is because she goes to the store nearly every day. She plans only as far as that evening. And lo and behold, she spends more. I tried to convince her to plan for the week, but she said she'd never be able to, that she can't know what she's going to want to eat tomorrow. But I wonder if maybe she's changed her habits in this new economy.
Anyway... here's what's cookin' at our house this week (anything in red is local, seasonal, organic, and most likely from our Farmer's Market ):
- Monday: Potsticker Stirfry with Baby Bok Choy (I get a bag of those great frozen potstickers at TJ's, fry them up, then add veggies of all sorts. SO EASY. I like it because it's a combination of a budget dinner and incorporates a local, seasonal vegetable.)
- Tuesday: Potato Latkes & Cabbage Salad (Hubby found some potatoes in our community garden plot as he's been de-weeding it and brought them home to me. I took one look and saw mounds of luscious golden potato pancakes in our future.)
- Wednesday: Kale Rabe & Shiitake Mushroom Rice with Tahini Sauce (the lovely winter greens are starting to flower, and the farmer's market is ripe with florettes of all sorts; they are delicious!)
- Thursday: Brussel Sprout Rabe & Sausage Pasta (see what I mean? It's all over!)
- Friday: Grilled Chicken Skewers & Grilled Asparagus
- Saturday: Date Night
What about you? Do you plan a week ahead or take it day by day? Do you find you save money with a certain method?
And what are you eating this week?
Tonight's Potsticker Stirfry... YUM.