Think a month ahead to save time & money

by Karen on December 10, 2008

Each week, I plan a menu and a to-do list. In an attempt to reduce stress and plan ahead for the holidays (including a 2,000-mile road trip), I decided to try monthly planning.

In addition to using Mint to plan a zero-based budget based on our income (which I do every month), I also mapped out a month’s worth of meals, a pre-holiday/vacation to-do list, and I’m still working on planning a month’s worth of blog posts.

Using Notepad, I saved three documents on my computer desktop last weekend: December budget, December menu, and December blog schedule.

When it comes to my blog, I’m not so good at planning ahead. Between my full-time job, spending time with my husband, and home management, the blog typically takes a back seat. It’s not uncommon for me to sit down to write the next day’s blog post with absolutely no idea what I’m going to write.

This month, I’ve been pushing myself to stay ahead of the game. Not only am I attempting to plan ahead for blog post ideas, but I’ve been writing more on the weekends and scheduling posts ahead of time.

I have to say, monthly planning has made my life a lot easier.

In the past, I’ve tried similar planning using calendars and date books. For some reason, these simple little Notepad documents have worked better than anything I’ve ever tried. Maybe it’s because I spend so much time in front of my computer, or maybe it’s because they’re so incredibly simplified, like a little electronic Post-it note.

I finished my budget and menu plan last weekend. Even though my blog post schedule isn’t finished, I have a head start on the month’s posts. Most importantly, I have a place to put those ideas that randomly spring into my head.

My premature new year’s resolution is to keep it up. I tried this method to make the holidays easier, but I can see how it could save me tons of time and money the rest of the year, too.

Having a monthly menu plan has made it easier to take advantage of grocery sales on nonperishables. For example, we’re making vegetable beef stew in two weeks, so when we found beef stock on sale for 50 cents a can last week, we picked up four cans. It saved us $2.

In the future, I plan to use the previous month’s menu plans to simplify my planning process even further. Because we have many favorites that we like to make over and over, I can refer to old menu plans when I need ideas for the next month’s meals.

My monthly to-do list has made it easier to manage my time. I know what I need to finish each week, so I won’t end up with a million things to do the week before we leave town.

It’s also made my weekend a lot more enjoyable. I didn’t feel stressed Saturday morning before grocery shopping, because I knew our menu plan was already finished. I also didn’t feel rushed or guilty thinking about what I should be doing. My to-do list dictated a few tasks I needed to finish to stay on track. Once they were done, I was free to relax.

I can’t wait to perfect this monthly planning process to maximize my savings and productivity. That definitely works for me.

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Menu Plan & Grocery Round Up: 12/13-12/19 — Living Well on Less
December 14, 2008 at 10:14 am

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