Budget Meal Planning – How to use meal planners to stay in your budget
After housing expenses, food is the next biggest line item in the budget. Using a meal planning service like Menu Planning Central can really help you save money. Here are some more tips.
Meal Planning – How Much Can You Save?
Meal planning is an awesome to save time, energy and money when feeding your family. For those thinking about meal planning, it is important to note that you don’t have to sacrifice a delicious, healthy meal for a busy schedule or a tight budget. If you are searching for an excellent way to make meals for your family, here are some practical tricks.
Plan Your Meals in Advance
The key to meal planning is obviously planning your meals ahead of time. However, many parents come home every night, ready to cook a quick meal and have absolutely no idea what to make. With your family getting hungry and a little cranky, most families give up and drive to the nearest fast food or casual dining restaurant. If you want to make sure that you stay home for dinner and that you and your family are all eating healthy, you need to plan ahead. Generally, the best way to organize your meals is to plan them out a week ahead of time. Determine a budget, determine which foods you and your family would like to eat, add in some of your family’s favorites and then write a shopping list. One of the easiest ways to meal plan is to create a calendar. Start out with a main dish for every night and then add in a side dish, desert and soup/salad.
Main dishes are definitely a great place to begin. Generally the majority of main dishes include protein such as poultry, beef, pork or fish. Any one of these make an excellent option and by changing it around during the week, your family won’t be bored and you can satisfy almost everyone’s favorite foods. For families that are trying to lose weight or have a history of disease such as heart disease and diabetes, the main dish is the main area you should focus on creating meals that fit your dietary requirements and lifestyle. You can simply choose lean meats, choose to consume more fish and for vegetarian eaters, substitute meat dishes with soy and main vegetable dishes.
Side dishes are very important to meal planning. This is your best opportunity to introduce vegetables into your family’s diet. Make sure you have at least one vegetable in the rotation each night. For best results at least two types of vegetables each meal is optimal.
Soup & Salad
For those watching your weight, a soup or salad is an ideal way to fill up in the beginning of the meal and enjoy smaller main dish portions later on. Soups are great during the winter months when the weather is cold outside and salads are an excellent way to get a healthy blend of fresh seasonal fruits or vegetables.
If you are trying to get everyone to stay until the end of the meal, desserts work wonders. Delicious desserts are always popular; you can also choose healthy fare such as fruit salads, fruit smoothies, and Jell-o.
For those looking to conserve time and money throughout the month on meals, your best bet is by meal planning.
For a free meal planning worksheet and shopping list log onto http://www.dinewithoutwhine.com/ShoppingList.pdf