Posted: Apr 11, 2012 11:42 AM
Everyone knows that to get the most out of your grocery budget you need to have a meal plan, but that can take time to make – time you could be perusing Pinterest or watching your favorite show. Making menus can be simple with this method, and all you’ll need are some 3 x 5 cards.

Meal planning is budget-friendly

Meal planning can save you lots of money and keep you from finding fuzzy blue vegetables at the back of the refrigerator. It’s a great idea, but it can take more time than you are willing to devote to your kitchen chores. Good news! If you can invest one afternoon of your life, you can have a rotating meal plan that you can use indefinitely.

Best of all, it is flexible enough to allow you to make the most of fresh foods in season, coupons and in-store specials.

Most families have a few favorite meals that they eat over and over again.

By creating menus with these meals, you can serve those family favorites without a lot of thought.

You'll need

  •  3 x 5 cards in five different colors
  • A recipe box or other container to hold the cards
  • Cookbooks and magazines

Make the menus

Talk to your family and ask them what foods they like best. Make a list of those family favorites. Now, look through cookbooks, magazines and your favorite recipe blogs and websites for recipes that look promising. List the recipe and where you can find it.

Choose a certain color index card for each of the following categories:

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Chicken
  • Seafood
  • Vegetarian

On each card list one of the recipes and where it can be found. For example:

  • Enchilada Casserole, My Favorite Cookbook, page 243
  • Fettuccine Alfredo, My Favorite Blog,

Put each main course and where it can be found on an index card in the correct category color. Add in side dishes, condiments and any dessert or other dish you plan on serving with it. On the back of the card list the main ingredients and any notes you want to make about the dish. Make as many cards as you would like.

Now, when you are ready to make your weekly menu, you can just choose seven cards from your box. Add the main ingredients and items for the side dishes to your grocery list and your menu making chores are done for the week.

Add cards whenever you try a new recipe that you like so that you are continually increasing the number of your meal plan cards. You can even add a sixth color for holiday, special occasion and party menus.

By using the cards you will find that it is a simple thing to create a weekly menu and grocery list based on family favorites, both old and new.

More about meal planning

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5 Must-have meal planning apps
5 Meal planning tips for busy moms