When budgeting, saving time is a consideration for the frugal as is saving cash. It’s important to do both. One way to save both time and money is to organize your schedule and your pantry and begin to plan your meals in advance. Now don’t panic and think you have to lay out a full week’s menu every Sunday! Planning even one day ahead will make a huge difference in your pocketbook because you’ll eliminate those quick trips to McD’s when supper-time hits and there’s nothing on the stove.
This is especially important if you work full-time or are away from home all day, driving kids to practice, running errands or taking care of your household. Planning your meals and even cooking in advance will tremendously simplify your life .
Meal planning and bulk cooking are both wonderful techniques you can utilize and modify to fit your family’s needs. The idea is simple. You cook and/or prepare your meals ahead of time and then preserve them by either freezing or refrigerating them. This will also help stretch your food budget, since you can cook one large meal and get two or three other meals from it with proper planning.
Start by writing down a list of your family’s favorite meals. Next, prepare a grocery list that coincides with your menu. Since you’re learning to cook in bulk, your shopping list will have to change accordingly so you’re sure to have enough ingredients on hand when the time comes to do the actual cooking.
The most important tool in meal planning and bulk cooking is your freezer. Freezer bags are a great space saver if you have a small freezer. You can fit many in the same space of a few storage containers. Be sure to incorporate lots of quick and easy meals that your family can warm up and serve themselves in the event you’re not at home at dinner time or if you just need to grab something quick.
Menu planning and cooking in advance will help you learn to love your slow cooker, too. It’s a cinch to throw something simple in the crock pot before heading off to work in the morning, and you’ll love coming home to dinner ready to set on the table!
Experiment with different recipes and variations of your favorites. Slow cookers make easy work of cooking whole chickens or roasts which can be frozen or refrigerated for later use very easily as well.
You’re only limited by your imagination and creativity when cooking in bulk for the week ahead. Factor in the time you save by not having to do a lot of after dinner cleanup or dishes, and you’ll be thrilled you took the time to master this valuable homemaking skill for yourself.
About the Author:
Darlene ‘Dee’ Bishop is a Christian minister and speaker, writer, and tightwad extraordinaire. She is the author of Frugal Fancy: Your Guide to Living Better for Less (release date Spring 2009) and the publisher of Frugal Fancy’s Newsletter, a free weekly resource filled with money saving ideas and information. Visit her online athttp://frugalfancy.comfor more information.