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If you missed Meal Planning 101 Part One, you can read that by clicking right here on Meal Planning 101 Part One. Then come back and finish here!
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5. When making my menu plan I also make sure that things, like meat, are spread out evenly throughout the week and that things are overall balanced
6. Another thing I take into account, is that my overall price point for a meal for my family is $2.00 for the entire meal, and yes, I am able to do this even with a family of my size
I did share some of my tips on this in 15 Frugal Tips for Feeding a Large Family, 15 More Frugal Tips For Feeding a Large Family, and 15 Essential Grocery Tips For Feeding My Family of 8 For $250 a Month.
With an overall price point of $2.00 a meal, I will go over this at times. Since I know this ahead of time, I will plan breakfast or lunch items that will come in under that $2.00, therefore giving me a balanced day at $6.00 overall.
7. One last detail I pay attention to is my calendar that week
If I am not going to have much time to make a meal on a particular day, I plan a very easy meal that will be a snap to prepare. I also have to take into account where I will be during the meal times. If I am not going to be here for one reason or another, it needs to be something that my kids can handle on their own.
I also check for birthdays and other odd things that week so my kids’ choices can be incorporated into not only the menu plan, but also the shopping list.
One final thing the calendar tells me is if we are going to be gone during a meal as a family. I will then have to decide if we will be eating a meal on the go, or eating a meal at a different time than what we are used to. All these things need to be taken into account, especially with so many mouths to feed.
If you are getting a sense that there is a lot that goes into menu planning you would be right, but it does get easier, and therefore quicker to do. Even if you have no idea how much a particular meal will cost to make, start keeping track of the price of things now, and just move forward. You will learn as you go.
If you are just starting to become more aware of what things cost, maybe having to rely on a budget for the first time whether out of necessity or desire, write things down for now, and later you will know these kinds of things by heart.
Perhaps the overall idea of menu planning seems overwhelming. In that case, don’t tackle all three meals a day, maybe just plan your dinners. Add in other meals as you go. The point is to make your life easier, not more stressful. Start small, just try it for a few weeks, and then judge whether menu planning works well for you.
In my life, menu planning helps me be more frugal in the way I shop and in the meals and combinations of meals that I prepare, it helps alleviate the stress of wondering what to make, and it buys me time since I am also not spending time trying to figure it out. I also have more time on the weekends, and therefore have more time to create shopping lists and gather recipes then as opposed to on the fly during the week.