Modern menu building on a budget – step 1: identify your habits

“Many people say they could plan interesting meals if they had enough money. Money is important, true, but ingenuity can do much.”

– from Foods: Their Nutritive, Economic and Social values, 1938

… and planning ahead can do even more. Even if your own financial situation isn’t dire, saving a buck here and there while eating deliciously and healthfully appeals to everyone. Between the vending machine, the coffee shop, and the eight different oscillating fast food options (or nothing for miles, depending on where you live), there are a million ways you can sink your money. And if you’re not aware of what you already have in your pantry and fridge to cook with, you’re throwing money away along with your rotting veggies and stale bread. Lastly, if you don’t know what kind of deals are out there on the stuff you typically buy, you could be tossing money out the window. Okay, enough. Here’s the point:

If you can identify your day-to-day behaviors and how they affect your buying habits, you can outsmart yourself into planning ahead and avoiding the pitfalls of convenience eating.

Here’s a handy checklist to get you thinking:

Are you swinging by a cafe to grab a breakfast sandwich and a coffee every day?
Do you hit the vending machines at 3:00 because your energy levels take a dive?
Do you order take-out late at night because you’ve had a long day and don’t feel like cooking?
Are you a grazer?
Do you eat three squares a day, or do you need another two snacks to make it through your day?

Once you’ve thought about your habits, count how many meals a week you’re going to eat in and how many you’re going to eat out. Think about what you often eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and especially the kinds of food you eat for the meals outside your home. What foods can you not live without?

Make a few notes for yourself and stay tuned for our next post on how to inventory your pantry and fridge.

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Published in: on 21 November, 2011 at 10:38  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. This is a great start. I mentally saved $35 already, just reading. Now about follow-through…

  2. […] But I’m learning that if you regularly shop somewhere, you can build the bulk of your menu around things that are on sale week after week. For example, take Whole Foods or your local co-op. Think back our previous post on your buying habits. […]

  3. […] that you can use. For our next post, we’re back to our regularly scheduled programming (menu-building on a budget). GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); […]

  4. […] 1. Know thine habits. By anticipating your hunger patterns and outside buying triggers, you can more effectively plan to have the food you want to be eating on hand instead of ducking in, grabbing fast food, and not eating the food you already have in your fridge. […]


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