Meal Planning/ Tutorial & How To

7 tips to menu planning and money saving

Laptop and cell phone with 2 hands typing: planning

Are you a Superwoman or a Superman?  Yeah, me neither! My 7 tips to menu planning and money saving are going to be really handy then :)!

Ah.  I wish I was Superwoman, it would be nice and help on a daily basis! Be a hero, save lives, fly or whatever my superpower would be… Well!  Sorry to break it to you but none of it exists.

For now, you will be the hero of your own house!

Side note before we get started

I have a question that I do get asked quite often though:  How you find time to blog (recipe testing, photographing, editing and writing) and work full-time and 2 kids at home?  Mhhh… Are you ready for the answer?  I don’t know.

As a hobby blogger, I don’t do as much as full time bloggers do. This is just my happy place: cooking, baking, taking pictures, SEO (no I’m kidding! Planning to balance things out helps me stay somewhat sane AND you will be saving money in the process!

My passion for cooking and baking helps me on my daily life! Adapt MY tips to YOUR life, this is what works for me because I love it!

At home, planning my menu has helped us a lot: Listing meals for the week allows us to have a more relaxing week and buy smarter (hence saving money).  I have gathered a few tips that I hope will help you smoothing out your daily routine and wallet.

1. Plan menu for the week.

This is a task in two parts: List all the meals you family likes and then you can do all the menu planning!

Make a list of meals that your family likes, keep it handy on paper, in an app, whatever works for you. I’m a little next level, I have a few by season or even when it’s a school night (for leftovers)! You don’t have to do that. Try to list 15 maybe of the all time favorites.

Now pick what you wish to cook that week. Consider  what is in season and on sale at your store (saving money right here!).  Apply those 2 advices and your final bill will say thank you.

I have Google Keep on my phone to list my groceries and plan my menu for the week.

Menu planning: Laptop and cell phone with 2 hands typing: planning

2. Shop for what you need.

Now that you have established a menu for the week, make a list of ingredients you will need.  This step will save you time and money at the grocery store.  I have shopped way faster by just grabbing what I need and not browsing all the aisles (although I love looking around in supermarkets!)

Shopping online I’ve been a game changer and I talk about it here.

Menu planning

3. Plan according to your fatigue level.

Do you feel as motivated and rested on Fridays than you do on Mondays?  I don’t.  So I consider making easier and faster meals as the end of the week approaches.  Monday and Tuesday, I would do something that requires more preparation whereas on a Thursday, I would stick to something more simple.

Beginning of the week: Homemade meat balls or Spinach-Goat cheese roll-ups creamy butternut squash.

Menu planning: Unrolled pasta with spinach goat cheese and caramelized onion filling

End of the week: Low maintenance: this 30-minute Mediterranean Salmon

Menu planning: Salmon on cutting board with toppings

4. Cook a few batches at the time.

Of course!  If you got all the ingredients and dishes out, might as well make a double or triple batch and freeze it.  I do that with a few recipes like my lasagna. You can also make a big batch of meat balls with your little ones and freeze it, you will love eating these homemade dishes on a busy weekday!

Menu planning: Lasagna

5. Make a new dinner with the leftovers.

SAVING money right here!

I know, some people hate eating twice the same meal in a row.  I don’t mind. Still, I like to challenge myself and re-purpose some leftovers.  It always looks like a new dish while it isn’t! Give a second life to that chicken or that leftover of ground beef!

Try my cheesy chicken quesadillas or these delicious Chicken and carrot patties!

Menu planning: Chicken quesadilla

 6. Do some preparation in advance.

As you making a Quiche tomorrow?  Well, get ahead and make the crust tonight.  Think about what you will do in the upcoming days that could help get ahead, even if it involves chopping a few veggies for tomorrow’s ratatouille.  Every little bit helps in a busy life.  Trust me.

Menu planning: Big red one pot full of easy French ratatouille with a white bowl on a wood background

7. Look at what you have in your pantry and fridge.

You don’t have to make full-cart groceries every week, you might have ingredients in your veggie drawer, freezer or pantry that could be incorporated in your menu.  Be creative, the sky is the limit and you don’t always have to stick to a recipe.  How about that can of black beans in your pantry?  Make a chili con carne!

Menu planning: Chili con carne

Your time is precious, specially the one spent with your family. Although cooking is my passion, my family is my life and my number one priority so I try to be efficient.  I am not perfect but I’m working on it :)!

It certainly makes evenings smoother and you feel like a winner by being ahead of the game.  All those efforts eventually pay off and planning a weekly menu has its benefits, you:

  • Saving money
  • Saving time in the kitchen
  • Saving me from the headaches and frustration

And YOU…  What is your secret weapon to a relaxing week when it comes to cooking?

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  • Reply
    October 3, 2014 at 7:08 am

    I know I should plan my menu for the week
    to avoid the hassles that comes when I don’t plan
    but most of the time I just end up not planning.
    My bad.
    Thanks for the tips
    I could really use them♥

    • Reply
      October 3, 2014 at 2:52 pm

      Thank you so much for stopping by Ann, I’m glad that my tips are useful to you :)

  • Reply
    kitchenr jon
    October 3, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    Hey Melanie, this is so true! If we never planned our meals we would never be able to eat as well as we do with as little of stress. Thanks for sharing all the tips!

    • Reply
      October 5, 2014 at 10:38 pm

      Thank you Jon, I do see a difference if I don’t plan the meals, way smoother with a plan!

  • Reply
    Rosalyn Gambhir (@rosalyngambhir)
    October 3, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    These are some great tips! I love planning meals ahead of time – it truly saves money and time!

    • Reply
      October 5, 2014 at 10:38 pm

      Thanks Rosalyn for stopping by :)

  • Reply
    October 3, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    Love it!

  • Reply
    October 3, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    We love saving time and money. But specially time. Being crazy triathletes with passion for the kitchen we try to balance our time in the kitchen and on the road (training). Thanks for sharing some of your secrets Melanie.

    Great minds think alike – that’s why we wrote our Meal Preparation series:

    • Reply
      October 5, 2014 at 10:42 pm

      Thanks Hector and Kim, I will definitely check your article…

  • Reply
    Sarah | (Cooking for) Kiwi & Bean
    October 3, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    Love all these tips. I may hold the world record for grocery spending, so I really need to heed some of your advice here!

    • Reply
      October 6, 2014 at 8:11 pm

      I am glad my tips help you Sarah. Try to apply them and you definitely see a difference!

  • Reply
    Helen @ Scrummy Lane
    October 3, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    This is a great little list, Melanie! I like the suggestion to cook simpler at the end of the week. I’ve made the mistake of being a bit too ambitious on a Friday night before and ended up exhausting myself!

    • Reply
      October 6, 2014 at 8:12 pm

      Thanks Helen, I know me too I wish I had more energy on a Friday night sometimes. Simple is good too, right :)?

  • Reply
    October 5, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    Melanie, these are all great tips that you listed. I like to use a site called Meat Deal Finder to help me save time and money.

    It saves me sorting through the flyers and let’s me know where the best sales are each week. It works for all of Canada.

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