We Plan The Menu And Make A Shopping List

Nia Rouseberg Author: Nia Rouseberg Time for reading: ~12 minutes Last Updated: October 19, 2022
We Plan The Menu And Make A Shopping List

Menu planning allows you to save not only money, but also time. Knowing what will be cooking in the next week or two, you can make a shopping list and buy all the necessary products at once.

Just think: during the year, we sit down at the table 1,092 times — that's assuming three meals a day. Of course, it is impossible and impractical to plan a menu for the whole year at once, but planning a menu for, say, a week — and that is only 21 meals — is quite a daunting task. The main thing is not to be afraid that the planning itself will take a lot of time: it is better to spend a few hours on it and get a budget menu , than to buy products every day, spend a lot of money, and, as a result, still not know what to cook from it all. In addition, making a list of dishes in advance will help to allocate time in such a way that you always have time to fill the refrigerator with various products , depending on the available free time.

Planning the menu for several days or even weeks in advance can significantly help in saving both money and time. Knowing what will be prepared for the next week or two, you can make a shopping list  and buy all the necessary products at once . Thus, there will be no need to run to the store every evening after work and on an empty stomach to sweep everything in sight, or to run 4 times to the store for those products that you forgot to buy or that are not enough to prepare dinner.



How to make a budget menu

Start by planning your menu for the week. To begin with, you need to write down all the dishes that you know how to cook by category: for example, first courses, side dishes, meat and fish dishes, vegetable dishes/salads and desserts. Or into the following categories: main dishes, side dishes, salads, desserts, if necessary, main dishes can be divided into subcategories of chicken, beef, pork, soups, and side dishes - vegetables, cereals, pasta. You can add your own categories to the list , for example, if you regularly bake bread and pies. Or by the category of drinks or snacks - if it is of fundamental importance to you. In a word, think about and choose the most convenient system for you to divide meals into categories so as to take into account all the food that you will consume. Also, select from this listbudget dishes - which will require small expenses or have easily replaceable products in the recipe . Write these dishes at the beginning of the list , or select them on a separate page - this will be your main list . Lobsters and stuffed goose are unlikely to get into it, but soups, vegetable stews, macaroni and cheese and casseroles have their place in it.

If the list of any of the categories turns out to be quite poor, you can look for options for budget dishes in recipe books or on the Internet. Also, don't be afraid to look for recipes of national cuisines of other countries or try a vegetarian menu . Make no more than 1-2 new dishes per week, plan to serve them alongside your favorite and well-known dishes, and then decide whether to list the dish as a main or a side dish, or whether to include it at all.

Do not forget to take into account the needs of all family members - consult, consult with them, what can be prepared, what they would like to eat, so that the dish you have prepared does not sit in the refrigerator. Enlist support and help in saving for the whole family. Of course, if you cook for one person, it will be easier to make a menu and save on food.

After that, you need to mark, for example, with different markers the dishes that are prepared quickly, and those recipes that take more time. The first will become the basis of the diet on weekdays, and the others - on weekends.

Prepare the dish several days in advance - this especially applies to the first dishes. This will help you save not only money, but also time. In your free time or on your day off, don't be lazy and prepare dishes in advance that can be frozen and stored in the freezer (dumplings, dumplings, flatbreads, etc.).

After that, you can compose a budget menu for the week, dividing the dishes into breakfasts, lunches and dinners. The advantage of such a system is the ability to make the diet balanced and varied. You need to select the content of the menu in such a way as to buy a minimum set of products . For example, you can buy a chicken, divide it, bake part of it in the oven with potatoes, and use the other part to make borscht next week. On Monday, you can cook rice with vegetables, and on Thursday - pilaf. New dishes should be included in the diet gradually, because not everyone may like them.

For your attention, meal options for the budget menu - Budget meal options


Basic set of products

Having a basic set of products will significantly simplify the process of budget menu planning . There should always be a list of products in the refrigerator , from which you can quickly make a dish, for example, if friends came to visit you or plans fell through, so as not to run immediately to the store. Stocks of these products should be replenished periodically, regardless of the prepared menu . Your kitchen should always have:

  • Groats

  • Macaroni or spaghetti.

  • Potato.

  • Beet.

  • Carrots.

  • Cabbage.

  • Onion.

  • Garlic.

  • Flour

  • Eggs

  • Sunflower oil.

  • Butter.

  • Salt and spices.

  • Sugar.

  • Vinegar.

  • Soda.

  • Tea/coffee.

When planning the menu, it is important to take into account the amount of free time for cooking and the actual time of preparing the dishes, so that the cooking schedule does not go astray, and you do not start reaching for snacks and products that are needed for preparing dinner or another meal. You need to choose dishes not only based on economy and speed of cooking, but also on the basis of your own preferences. The basis of the diet should be mainly seasonal products in order to really reduce food costs.


What menu planning gives

Every time you go shopping with a list and menu , you know exactly what this or that product is for . Thus, the number of impulsive purchases is reduced to a minimum. With such a system, it is enough to go to the store twice a week - at the beginning of the week and in the middle, and in the middle of the week a small part of those products that are not stored for a long time (bread, dairy products , etc.) are purchased. Such infrequent trips to the store lead to the fact that a minimum of unnecessary things are bought. Every time you know exactly what you are looking for and for which dishes the products are needed. Also, menu planning allows rational use of products— for example, buy a large head of cabbage and use it in various dishes. Thus, products do not have time to spoil, and do not have to throw them away.

It is the planning of the menu for the week that allows you to painlessly reduce costs if necessary. On the one hand, you can always decide how to put dishes on the menu , and when all the necessary ingredients are already bought, the temptation to buy and cook something else disappears. On the other hand, you can decide in advance which days you will have more time to prepare heavier meals. Also, if you know that for this week, let's say, money is short, then you  can put more economical dishes on the menu .

The menu planning system allows you to make full use of leftovers, frozen food in the freezer and canned goods. Before making a menu , check what you have, and at the end of the week prepare dishes in which you will use it all. If you know that on a certain day of the week you will have more time, devote it to preparing homemade semi-finished products - make dumplings or dumplings. They are cheaper and more useful than purchased ones. In addition, homemade semi-finished products will come to the rescue when there is no time to cook. Also, as an option, you can leave the position of the last meal of the week empty - in case the system crashes, to use the leftovers.

After all, the culinary records of the previous weeks allow us to analyze the situation. You can immediately see what you liked or didn't like, where the money went, and how you can optimize the menu so that it is both tasty and money is not wasted.

Principles of nutrition when making a menu

When making a menu, do not forget to take into account the physiological needs of the body. Make sure your diet meets the energy and nutrient needs of you and your family. If necessary, make a menu that will meet the requirements for children's food, food for the elderly. Remember that our goal is to save on food, not on health.

We make a shopping list

When you have a ready -made menu , say, for a week - write down which products and in what quantities you need for cooking. See if you have some of the things you need in your home stock, maybe you don't need to buy everything, or maybe there are some products that you should always have in a small supply (read above) that will run out and need to be restocked. Divide the shopping list  into two parts: one part will contain products that you need to prepare dishes from the weekly menu , and the second part will contain products for long-term use and storage (spices, flour, tea/coffee, etc.). With a ready shopping listyou can safely go to the store.


We test it in practice (PREMIUM)

A menu of proper nutrition for a week for a family of 3 people What can be considered correct

This is food that provides our body with all the necessary substances and necessarily contains proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and trace elements. Such favorite chips, cakes and sugary sodas unfortunately do not fit this description, so it is better to strictly limit their quantity.

Satisfies the feeling of hunger. So food should be enough to feel full, but not enough to overeat.

Diet: the break between meals should be about 3 hours, a maximum of 4-4.5. A long break between meals leads to overeating. If possible, try to eat at the same time. Like in the camp, remember?

They say that sweets are vitamins for the soul. Is it possible to leave the soul without vitamins? However, like any medicine, vitamins must be strictly dosed. Because of this, it is better to reduce sweets to consumption once a week in the ideal version.

Food classics: baked, stewed and boiled are better than fried and smoked. So often and tastier.

  • Breakfast - oatmeal.

  • Lunch - dinner.

  • Afternoon - broccoli and cauliflower casserole.

  • Dinner - baked chicken, boiled potatoes, carrot and garlic salad.

The optimal lunch is a combination of carbohydrates and protein, so it is better to supplement it with a piece of meat, fish, poultry or cheese. But if there is protein for the after-party, then this rule can be made an exception.

When cooking chicken in the oven, any techniques that will help the excess fat drain are a good idea.

Carrot and garlic salad is better dressed with fat dressing, it can be mayonnaise, but homemade. Fats will help absorb vitamin A.

  • Breakfast - oatmeal.

  • Lunch - chicken vermicelli soup.

  • Afternoon - broccoli and cauliflower casserole.

  • Dinner - steamed fish cutlets.

Broccoli and cauliflower should be included in the diet - they are rich in vitamin C and a number of other useful trace elements. Casserole is an ideal option for those who do not like boiled vegetables.

Lean fish is an ideal option for dinner.

  • Breakfast - millet porridge.

  • Lunch - chicken soup with vermicelli.

  • Afternoon - cheese casserole.

  • Dinner - steamed fish cutlets.

If there are no contraindications, then it is really better to cook porridge with the addition of milk. Thus, the proteins contained in cereals are more easily absorbed and become more useful.

The dishes offered in the menu can and should be supplemented with fresh fruit, at least 2 different fruits per day.

  • Breakfast - millet porridge.

  • Lunch - potato soup with herring.

  • Afternoon - cheese casserole.

  • Dinner - lazy cabbage rolls, celery, radish and cucumber salad.

Remember. that the recommended salt intake is no more than 1 g per day. If you are concerned about swelling or pressure, then you should limit the amount of salt to 1 tsp. or desalt already prepared food.

  • Breakfast - barley porridge.

  • Lunch - potato soup with herring.

  • Afternoon - rice casserole with apples.

  • Dinner - lazy cabbage rolls, celery, radish and cucumber salad.

Porridge in the morning is very good for digestion. The use of various cereals provides a diverse set of trace elements.

  • Breakfast - salmon sausages, rye bread.

  • Lunch - soup with meatballs and spinach.

  • Afternoon - rice casserole with apples.

  • Dinner - roast meat, buckwheat porridge, fresh cabbage salad with an apple.

A large number of different vegetables in the diet is the key to obtaining useful trace elements. 

Also, the menu must include dishes from fish of the salmon family, which are a source of useful polyunsaturated fatty acids.

  • Breakfast - poached eggs

  • Lunch - soup with meatballs and spinach.

  • Afternoon - orange cheesecake without baking.

  • Dinner - roast meat, buckwheat, fresh cabbage salad with an apple.

You don't need to deny yourself sweets completely. And if you make a dessert of cheese and fruit, you will get the necessary calcium and vitamin C with a tasty dish.

As you can see, breakfast is a must in this menu: porridge, which gives strength to start the working day, nutritious soup - hot, which will warm and sustain strength, a hearty, but not heavy snack, and a nutritious dinner. In order not to overload the digestive system, the last meal should be at least 3 hours before bedtime. If you need one more snack, you can eat a banana or an orange. Apples and fermented milk products should be eaten carefully, despite the popular opinion about the benefits of such snacks, because apples increase appetite, and fermented milk products do not give a feeling of satiety.

The number of products needed to prepare these dishes and a shopping list are added to the menu .


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