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While you are making your menu plan, think about what will be happening in next week. Is Friday night Football Game Night? Plan to have a supper that is quick to fix. Is Wednesday your day off? That is day you might want to try out a new recipe that takes a little longer to prepare.
Whatever your schedule, plan your menus around it. And be flexible! If it snows on Tuesday, and you hadn't planned to make chili until Thursday, you can just switch menus around.
Keep your lists, so that in weeks to come, you can be reminded of some meals your family especially liked (or disliked!). After a few weeks, you will end up with a set of weekly menus that you can use over and over.
With your plan in hand, you won't be tempted to go for takeout because you just can't think of anything to make for supper. And you won't get caught without that "one ingredient" you need to make tonight's supper, so no more last minute trips to grocery store!
Cyndi Roberts is the editor of the "1 Frugal Friend 2 Another" bi-weekly newsletter and founder of the website of the same name. Visit http://www.cynroberts.com to find creative tips, articles, and a free e-cooking book. Subscribe to the newsletter and receive the free e-course "Taming the Monster Grocery Bill".