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Using Meal Plans Can Save You $$

We’ve talked about how flexible meal plans can be in reflecting the meals you want to eat during different seasons of the year (see post on Flexible Meal Plans). A recent experience shows how using the meal plans can also save you money!

On Sundays I usually spend the evening with my daughter’s family, and always contribute a dish or two to the family meal. Recently, my daughter wanted me to make ham and bean soup using the ham bone from a previous ham dinner. Of course, I was delighted to make the soup and some cornbread to go with it. However, on Saturday night when I went to put the beans in a pot to soak, I found that I had no small white beans in my pantry. “No problem,” I thought, “I’ll just open one of the #10 can of beans that I dry packed awhile back.”

I went to my cold storage room, found the beans, and looked at the date on the can—”2007.” Wow, could it really have been that long ago that I dry-packed these beans? Then, I was trying to remember how long I had them in the 20-lb. bag before I put them in the #10 cans. I couldn’t. I soaked the beans overnight, drained the water, and started the bean soup the next afternoon. They should have been tender in less than two hours. They weren’t. I cooked them another hour. Still crunchy. I realized that the beans would NEVER be tender because they were too old and dried out.

They tasted delicious, but I wanted them softer, so, I did the next best thing— I used the potato masher and crunched the beans a few times creating a thicker soup. We all enjoyed the soup and cornbread in spite of the crunchiness, but I don’t think I will be using the rest of those beans.

Of course, I could do what I’ve done so many times in the past and tell myself, “they weren’t that bad. I would probably eat them in a pinch, if nothing else were available. I’d better save them.” Then the beans will sit there a few more years, getting more and more dried out until they turn into little white “rocks” and then even a potato masher won’t  help.

No, this time I cut my losses and tossed the beans. I’ll replace them, but this time I’ll consult my meal plan, checking to see how many times I’ll serve a meal using small white beans during the next year. (Since they store so well, I will probably buy more than a three-month supply). Then, I will only buy that much. I guarantee you it won’t be 20 pounds! More like five 1-pound bags. I may be paying slightly more per pound, but I will be saving money because I won’t be throwing any beans away.

This is the way I buy all of my food now. I now shop according the master shopping list that I made, whch is based on my meal plans. I shop sales and use coupons. I try never to pay full price for anything. By the way, if you are one who cuts the coupons from the Sunday papers, you can also get those coupons online at: www.redplum.com and www.smartsource.com.

So my advice to you if you want to save money on groceries or non-food items? Download the worksheets, (go to Worksheets tab) make your meal plans and your master shopping list(s). Do it now and start saving!

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This entry was posted on Monday, September 20th, 2010 at 6:15 pm and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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