Well, I guess initially, it can be.
Might even call it maddening! Sometimes what feels like madness can actually be beneficial to us later ( I can't think of any examples right now, but...)
So, as a quick refresher, scroll on down to Part 1 (it's just below this post) and look at the steps I took when I started menu planning. Later in this post I'll give you the link to my system (Look for it!) No, it's not all the way at the bottom...good grief I hate to wait too!!
No really, go ahead, scroll on down, I'll wait.
One of the most difficult parts for me when it came to other plans...no flexibility.
Is it time to decide if menu planning is frugal or madness?
Shh...don't interrupt. Patience friend, we'll get there I promise.
Many of the online versions were thrown into a melt down if I didn't mark off the right meal on the right day.
The menu plans I downloaded confused me. Either I filled my meals in online and printed it off (changing days created an arrowed (is that a word?) and crossed off mess) OR I had to keep coming to my computer to answer the age old question,
"What's for dinner?" (Did anyone else just hear Sam Elliot's voice from that beef commercial? No? Hum...Oh... well I must be hearing things).
What was I saying? Oh, yes, confusion or a marked up mess when it came to other planning systems.
I needed flexibility and a user friendly format (what I was finding was not what I needed)
Once I created my menu board and decided to get my recipes based on what I already had in the pantry, the fun began!
Here comes the frugal or madness part!
Before you decided to jump ship let me give you the why's of the beginning madness!
It’s been said it takes 21 days to form a new habit
You have to start from the bottom
Anything worth having is worth fighting for and putting effort into.
Let me hit upon each point just briefly and then you can check out my menu planning system!
First, menu planning was not something I had ever done with much success. It took some time to get used to doing it and there were some frustrating moments.
Second, getting comfortable with my menu planning system did actually take me about three, may be four weeks. At first it was time consuming but I hoped it would level out...eventually! It did!
Third, as I started, I was making some pretty simple stuff because of my lack of pantry items. Our options were limited to say the least. We ate a lot of the same things week after week for the first few months, but as I was using those recipes, I was keeping my eyes on the recipes I wanted to try later. There were many things I hadn't even thought about keeping in my pantry...who would have thought poppy seeds were so versatile!? So in the beginning, the madness was simply needing to stock up some basic items, which took some time and a bit more money.
Finally, I knew menu planning could be frugal! I had read many stories where families were saving hundreds of dollars a year just by using menu planning. I just had to have the gumption to stick with it! Trust me, I had more than one pep rally with myself and more than my share of wanting to give up! I chose to stick with it!
I hope you'll finish reading even though you're getting the goods before the end! You can get my menu planning system Here!
Frugal! Frugal! Frugal! (chanting and dancing in my kitchen)
What does this frugal look like?
Funny you should ask! I was just going to tell you! (geesh, have you always been this impatient?)
So, how has menu planning turned from madness to frugal? Like this:
Shrinking Grocery List:Shrinking Grocery Bill - My grocery lists started getting smaller and smaller; smaller grocery list, smaller grocery bill! As I worked with my menu board, stocked my pantry, and used recipes based on what I had in stock, I found I needed less and less for the recipes I wanted to try. NO, my pantry and fridge are not overly full, there's just enough. Frugal because...
Rotation Option- The menu recipes allowed me to try new dishes at a much lower cost. Once we started rolling menu items over I found I already had a lot of the ingredients, if not all, so I was able to designate monies for new ingredients new recipes called for! No more having the same things week after week. Frugal because...
Less Waste - We had less and less waste. I noticed that as I started cooking things based on what I already had and I wasn't buying a bunch of stuff we didn't really need, our waste and throw aways started shrinking and shrinking. Less stuff was going bad and needing to be thrown away. While I still had left-overs they were getting eaten either as lunches the next day or during our YoYo (your on your own) nights.
Frugal after the kinks are worked out because there is no more buying things you don't need. Things won't go bad before you can use them and your grocery list is going to start shrinking!
My hope is that you are encouraged and wanting to take the menu planning step! Hang in there when it feels like madness...frugal is just within reach!
*What part of menu planning most appeals to you? Least appeals to you? Have you had any success or failure with menu planning?*