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Extension > Live Healthy, Live Well > With a Little Planning, You Can Save Time and Money in the Kitchen

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

With a Little Planning, You Can Save Time and Money in the Kitchen

By Mary Schroeder, Extension Educator — Health and Nutrition

School is back in session! For many families, this means school activities, homework, and more evening commitments. Some families eat more meals away from home or order takeout to save time, but that gets expensive. With a little bit of planning, families can enjoy home-cooked meals that take only a little time to prepare and cost less than restaurant food.

Here are six steps for saving time and money in the kitchen:
  1. Keep a list of the things your family likes to eat. Talk to your family members. What are their favorite main dishes, salads, vegetables, fruits, and desserts? This list can help you plan a menu each week. Keep the master list taped inside a kitchen cupboard or on the refrigerator.
  2. Set aside some time at the end of the week to plan meals for the coming week. Sit down Thursday or Friday night, or the weekend, and take the next steps.
  3. Using your favorite food list, write down a main dish for each night. Add side dishes, too, if you like. If you have a busy night, select recipes with few ingredients and use quick-cooking techniques, such as cooking with the microwave, using prepared food items, or one-pot meals.
  4. Make a list of ingredients and purchase food you need ahead of time. Go shopping on the weekend or late in the previous week.
  5. Post each week’s menu on the refrigerator. Ask family members to review the menu, and then enlist everyone in preparation and cleanup duties. Assign tasks to children according to their age and capabilities.
  6. Develop “rolling” menus. Rather than creating an entirely new menu each week, continuously update each menu, i.e., change out one or two meals each week but keep the rest. Save each menu, and before you know it, you will have a significant catalog of weekly menus ready to use throughout the year.
An additional tip: Keep a few basic ingredients on hand in case plans change or you don’t feel like making what is on the menu for that evening. For example, keep refried beans and soft tortillas on hand to make bean burritos, or pasta and ground beef for spaghetti and red sauce.

For tips on saving money on groceries, visit the Shop and Save page on the Live Healthy, Live Well website. For a print-and-use tool, download Meal Planning Guide (PDF).

1 comment:

Fa's Kitchen said...

I love this post and totally agree that lil planning goes a long way in saving the time n money. I blog at www.faskitchen.com and there are lot of kid friendly recipes in it. With 3 kids optimizing the time and money becomes a necessity.

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