Updated: Nov 13
In a era where time has become a commodity that can’t be wasted, I have seen (at least here in America) a lot of food and money being wasted for convenience and the hope to gain back a little extra time.
I personally, have found one of the best things I ever did to help relieve some stress off me and avoid constant waste of food and money, was to create a dinner menu.
It started a little over 6 years ago. I was working full-time, my husband was in college full-time, and we had one toddler running around and a newborn baby that needed constant care. I was running thin between running my 2 kids to and from day care, working an 8 hour job; to, eventually, coming home to play with the kids and figure out dinner. My husband was trying to balance a part-time job, and full-time school (which was pretty much most of his time. Once home he had homework to get done or studying for an exam to do).
One Saturday morning, I was incredibly frustrated. All week, I had no idea what to make for dinner and I felt like a was throwing out all of the food by the time garbage day hit. My husband came up to me and suggested maybe doing a menu once a week. Only for dinner, and just to make things a little easier for me. At first, I thought it was a silly idea. I told him it wouldn’t work. It would be more of a chore for me than a help. I had so many excuses. It would take me more time to: make the menu, following the menu, remember the recipes and make sure I bought everything…. He insisted I at least try it out and if it didn’t work, then I could scratch the idea and move on to the next. In typical new wife form, I looked him, said fine and in my head thought this isn’t going to work.
Needless to say… my husband was not only right, but I actually find myself, now, suggesting the idea to other families. It started very simple, I wrote it on a piece of paper and put it on the fridge. It evolved into a whiteboard and eventually became the Crafty Menu Board image above.
Making a menu has not only helped limit the waste we have, but has also helped me to regulate my grocery budget to an incredibly low number in spending. I can honestly say that we do not spend more than $500 a month in groceries ever. This counts when holidays roll around we get a little “Fancy” and my annual Christmas cookie baking day. And it’s not on boxed food or pre-made dinners, which are actually more costly. It’s because I only buy what I need for the week, including lunches, breakfast and what’s on the dinner menu. If you want to get really technical on it, I know other people plan out the whole day, I don’t do that, but in all honesty breakfast is usually cereal, oatmeal or eggs. Lunch is almost always leftovers of a dinner or a sandwich. So I never really buy that much extra for those times. But if you find you’re making a lot of breakfast casseroles or special things for the kids’ lunch, then you might want to consider doing an all day menu.
The other big rule is to STICK TO THE LIST. Something on sale that is not on your list is not saving you money because you’re buying something you didn’t need. Follow that rule and make a dinner menu, you will be on your way to seeing waste go away.
The above was something I wanted to use instead of the white board for 3 reasons.
1. It looks nice in a kitchen
2. The cards actually make it a little easier to decide what to eat.
3. When a day has to be changed I just move the card to that day.
Also, check out my post sharing a pdf version of my grocery List