Fall is in the air. It’s getting colder outside, and the days are getting shorter. It’s the time of year that I start cooking soup on Sunday.

I never think twice about what I’m going to serve for supper on Sunday, it’s a given and it’s soup.

Menu planning is something that will save you time and money. Save you time because you are not spending time every day deciding what you are going to have for dinner, then making sure you have all the ingredients and if necessary, running to the store to purchase the ingredients you do not have on hand.

When you run to the store like that, I’m guessing you are probably paying full price for those ingredients because the likelihood they will be on sale is slim to none. So, you save money by menu planning because you will be buying the ingredients when they are on sale.

If you struggle on a daily basis to answer the question What’s for dinner?, then I would recommend you spend some time each week to plan your week out so that question is answered easily.

There are several ways to menu plan. First off, I suggest you make a list of all the meals your family will eat. If you are lucky to have a family that eats just about anything, then you can skip this step.

I would say you can stop listing the meals when you reach 30 or more. I like the idea of writing each one of these meals on an index card and shuffling them each week.

Your list of meals will be a great place to start with your menu planning. Pick five to seven meals from your list for the week. Check your pantry and freezer to see what ingredients you might have to purchase for those particular meals. That is your shopping list.

An alternative way to menu plan is to base your menus for the week on what’s for sale at the grocery store. Start with looking through the ads and finding items that are on sale and work your menus around those items. This saves the most money.

My favorite way to menu plan is to pick a theme for each day. As I mentioned above, it’s soup on Sunday You might try the following for example:

Sunday — Soup

Monday – Italian

Tuesday – Mexican

Wednesday – Quick and Easy

Thursday – New Recipe

Friday – Pizza

Saturday – Leftovers or eat out

You might also try a different meat-fish each day of the week. Based on the meat-fish, you can plan your recipes and side dishes. Like this:

Sunday – Chicken

Monday – Meatless meal

Tuesday – Seafood

Wednesday – Ground beef

Thursday – Pork

Friday – Fish

Saturday – Roast beef

Finally, you might try cooking meals using different appliances each night, such as:

Sunday – Oven-broiler

Monday – Instant pot

Tuesday – Slow cooker

Wednesday – Grill

Thursday – Wok

Friday – Griddle

Saturday – Panini maker

Once you have the basis of your menu planning, the meal ideas will come much easier.

Planning your meals ahead of time allows you to save money, time and be able to answer the question, “What’s for dinner?” Happy menu planning.

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