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Meal Planning Made Simple
By Monica Resinger, Editor The Homemaker's Journal
_http://homemakersjournal.com_ ( 
Meal planning can be a time-consuming job and often times, this is why we 
just give up on it and just go get whatever looks appealing at the store and be 
done with it.  I know from experience that this leads to wasted money, extra 
trips to the store, frustration and cooking boredom.  
So what's the solution?  The solution I came up with was pre-planned 3-day 
menus complete with shopping lists.  This way, I’d only have to do the work 
for a given menu, then from there on, that menu would be hassle-free.  This 
method also allows me to work in new recipes.
Meat is usually the most expensive part of the shopping list, so this is why 
it is the biggest factor in my menu planning. On a given week (I like to shop 
weekly for the sales to save money), there is usually 1 or 2 different meats*  
on sale that I’ll buy for the good prices.  This is why I make my menus for 3 
days - so I can use the two sale meats* in my menu plan (I pick out 2 menus 
that include the 2 meats I‘ll be using). This ads up to 6 meals within a week - 
I don't plan 7 meals because we usually have at least one (usually more) meal 
per week with enough leftovers to make up for that 1 missing meal (and of 
course, there‘s always those nice days when we get to go out to dinner!). Maybe 
you or I will have leftovers after each meal and extend our shopping trips and 
save us money! *Note:  if you happen to be a vegetarian, simply plan your 
meals around the produce sales.
Here is the step-by-step instructions for making pre-planned, 3-day menus:
1.  Choose the *meat  you'd like to include in your meal plan.  To help 
decide, look at what meats are on sale in your weekly grocery store sales 
2.  On a sheet of paper (or a page in your word processing program on your 
computer), label Meal 1 and leave a few spaces to fill in a main dish, 
vegetable, bread, etc. (whatever food groups you like to have included in your 
then do the same for Meal 2 and Meal 3.  
3.  Fill in the names of the recipes you want to include in each meal.  For 
this part, you can use your tried and true recipes or fill in new ones you've 
been wanting to try.  If the recipes are from a cookbook, list the name of the 
cookbook with the page the recipe is on in parentheses so you can find it 
later, or, if you'd like, you can write the recipes on additional sheets of 
(or additional pages in your document on the word processing program) to 
include with your menu for ease of use later.  
4.  Make the shopping list.  On an additional sheet of paper, include all the 
ingredients from each recipe you used in Step 2.  If an ingredient is 
included in more than one recipe, simply increase the amount on your list.  
It's nice 
to categorize these, but not necessary.
I suggest making a basic shopping list for yourself that includes items you 
use all the time such as fresh fruits & vegetables, milk, eggs, bread, flour, 
sugar, etc. These are the items you always want to have on hand. 
You can organize your meal plans in a 3-ring binder and section them off by 
meat.  Obviously the more 3-day menus you have, the better.  Yes, this can be 
time consuming to begin with, but it is time well invested because later there 
will be hardly any work involved.  When it comes time to go shopping all 
you'll have to do is look up two appealing 3-day menus that include your sale 
meats, write down the items you need from those and your basic shopping list, 
go shopping.
Monica is the founder Homemaker's Journal E-publications, the growing home of 
many fun and informative home and garden e-books, tip sheets, articles and 
more!  _ ( 
Get a FREE Slowcooker Recipe E-book when you subscribe to Monica's FREE 
e-zine for homemakers!  To subscribe and receive instructions for picking up 
FREE e-book, just send a blank e-mail to:  
Feel free to publish this article as long as the above bylines & this note 
are included; notification at [EMAIL PROTECTED] (mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED])  
would be appreciated.

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