Cutting Costs in the Kitchen- When Menu Planning Doesn't Go as Planned

Meal Planning

I actually love to meal planning. I have all kinds of meal plans, including 6 weeks of Trim Healthy Mama meals plans, 2 months worth of Weight Watcher meal plans, not to mention all the meal plans I have previously made. My problem is follow through. I love to make meal plans but I don’t follow it. Part of it is that doesn’t sound good today  Sometimes I lose them or forget to check it.  A lot of it is lack of discipline but I think most of it is just because I learned it differently.


In my previous post Cutting Cost in the Kitchen – Meats    I talked about following sales cycles and buying meat for rock bottom prices. Now I know I have more freezer space than the average person and right now they’re messy. I try and straighten them out about once a month but it’s been about 3 due to surgery. I have 2 fridges with small freezers on the top and a small chest freezer that I hate. What I really want an upright freezer since they would be so much easier to organize. In my mind, it is always looks organized and styled with pretty bins and I can find everything. But since I don’t have one, I keep an inventory list. I keep a list with boxes with a line through it for inventory and had a line to make an x when I use it. Then,  I add in boxes or a new line with the item when I buy more. I also keep ( what is actually for photos) a book with index cards for meals. I use this for my kind of meal planning.

My KInd of Plan

As I said I don’t plan anymore in the traditional sense but I do plan ahead. I keep freezer inventory of main dishes and meats since that’s what we use for dinner. I have my little “photo planner” that is filled with index cards. My first one says menu plan. Serve 1 main dish category, salad, side or starch, vegetable,  and bread. Now, this may seem excessive to you. In fact, I am trying to serve less and simplify a lot of things this year and am starting with this. I was taught this by my grandmother and she was a farmers wife. And the menu for thrashing parties and hay balers was twice as much. But we don’t need to eat like farm hands.  I saw Gordon Ramsey’s Ultimate Home Cooking on Hulu. He only serves 2-3 dishes per meal. And he’s a chef!!  So I decided if he did that small for meals I could at least try to do that also.

Menu Index Book

My menu index card also has “suggestions” for each day of the week. Example- Monday-Chicken; Tuesday- Pork or Fish; Wednesday- Italian; Thursday- Mexican; Friday is Pizza and movie night; Saturday we try and do a big breakfast, the same with Sunday. Saturday is beef for supper and Sunday dinner is chicken, usually something in the crockpot. For lunch or supper on the weekend that I don’t make a big meal, we usually have leftovers or soup. I make a big pot on the weekend and freeze the rest so we can always have soup. I have 4 different kinds in my freezer now.

Anyway, I have index cards for categories with our family favorites in each.


Main Dish Salads













The last cards are for hospitality. And I covered that here.


Daily Meal Routine

So then that day, while I’m cooking dinner, I think about the next day. And I pull out of the freezer whatever I want for the next day. Then I cross it off my list. Somedays the children pull what they want for the next night. I do have a plan as listed above that I sometimes follow but I have the flexibility to change.  I keep both my pantry and my freezer stocked so that I can plan meals from the staples and meals I have in there. Since I have the main ingredients it makes it easier. Now I know doing this all at the beginning of the week would probably be the smartest thing to do. I have read books on meal planning.  I know it makes sense. But if you’re like me and have trouble following it, try this way of “planning”.

What do you do for meal planning?




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Christina Renee

Hi, I'm Christina, a wife of 33 years, mom of 10 and grandmother of 3. I love to help other Moms with mothering, organizing their homes and routines. I've had a lot of struggles with illness having fibromyalgia and being an amputee. Talking to other moms with the challenges that bring and succeeding in spite of it.

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