Monday, May 16, 2011

Save Money, Save Time.

This tip will help you with several goals: Sticking to your food budget, sticking to your diet, saving time, and never again feeling the frustration while you are cooking of discovering you’re missing a key ingredient.

I just recently adopted a method that helps with all of the above. At a neighbor’s party, I met an older woman new to our neighborhood.   Among the things she shared about her life was that when she was a young mother, money was very tight. What caught my particular attention was how she handled her food budget. She wrote down a seven day menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and then checked it against the ingredients in her cabinet and her pile of coupons.

With her list (based on the menus,) and plastic “clicker” in hand (a gadget very popular at one time - it added up the numbers you clicked into it, giving the shopper an accurate idea of the amount already spent), she had a food allowance of $25, including detergent and shampoo. When she went over her limit, she put some items back on the shelf.  If she was under, she bought a favorite family treat.

Even though it was clear, judging by her appearance, that she no longer needed to be so careful with money, she said, “I still do it to this day.  The menu is much, much better and the allowance is more generous, but I so dislike food shopping, I don’t want to have to go more than once a week. Planning ahead makes that easy.” I was impressed.

Our food budget has been a source of frustration to me, and the frequent trips to the convenience store because I am missing an ingredient for dinner is anything but
convenient. Planning out a week’s worth of meals in advance means that I know I have everything I need, and food is less likely to get wasted. 

Also, having planned particular meals is great for the inevitable question “What’s for dinner, Mom?”  Here are the choices folks, take it or leave it.  That question isn’t nearly as annoying as it used to be.

If you are dieting, this method is particularly helpful. Write your menus after you have eaten, using your diet-friendly cookbooks, and add some healthy snacks for your weaker moments at the end of the day. This will keep you away from the fast food places when you are too tired to both shop and cook. Looking forward to having something delicious to eat at home will help you stick to your goals, whether their about your diet or you wallet.

Good luck with you goal!

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