Families who eat meals together prepared at home are healthier and have better relationships. And meals based on planned menus using simple, familiar foods can save time and money at the grocery store.
Start by evaluating what food you have on hand. Make a list of what you have and check it off as you use it. Do you have lots of meat, poultry, fish and seafood? Consider starting with the protein food and form a meal around it. Work in those on-hand frozen vegetables as you plan your menus. Now is a good time to make a dent in some of those reserves, in light of the possibility of yet another hurricane and power outage.
What is in your cabinets and pantry? Are you buying more of what you already have? Do you have the basic staples for healthy meals?
Next, sit down and think about the foods your family enjoys and write down menus on paper. Include food combinations that your family enjoys such as field peas with rice dressing and baked sweet potatos with vegetable soup.
Put these menu plans on a calendar, noting any activities that may be going on that would challenge your time to prepare those meals. For example, your children may have soccer practice every Thursday. That means Thursday’s meals may have to be slow cooker meals, or some of the preparation done the evening before.
Think about how you can skip steps, such as browning more than one pound of ground meat with onions and seasoning if you will need it for back to back menu plans. Ground meat freezes well for about a month and will save time later if you have a casserole or dish planned that calls for ground beef.
Once you have your menus planned, develop your grocery list. You can also check the store ads to see what is on sale and work those items in that week. Using what you have on hand and your menus, write a list of what you need. Then, shop the list. Buy the amount of perishable items you will use up that week, such as milk, fresh fruits and vegetables. That takes you all the way to meal preparation. It is as easy as that.
Some people grocery shop once a week. Some go to more than one store and shop the sales. For most, the fewer visits we make to the grocery store, the less money we spend.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture