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The FlyLady | Save money, and lose the guilt

Column by Marla Cilley

This month’s new habit is menu planning. Now, don’t go running to the closet to hide. This is quite simple when you take just a few minutes each week to do this.

First I need to explain to you why menu planning is so important to us. You can’t eat what you don’t have in the house. Just the simple act of sitting down and thinking about what to fix for the next week, then going to the grocery store and purchasing the food will give you more freedom than almost anything. This will save you time and money and put good food in your pantry. When you have nutritious food in your home, you will feel better about what you and your family are eating. 

With the extra cost of heating our homes and driving our cars, we have to find a way to save a few bucks here and there. The easiest place to do this is with our food budgets. Oh, you don’t have a budget. You have been doing whatever it takes to get food down your family’s throats. When we are in a hurry, the first thing that comes to mind is the closest fast-food joint or picking up the phone to order pizza once again. A little menu plan and a clean kitchen can go a long way toward feeding your family and saving money at the same time.

Now, we are heading into a busy and expensive holiday season. We want to help you use your time and your money in an efficient way to feed your family and at the same time release the guilt. Menu planning will do this.

Now, I am not just talking about dinner time. We have to eat snacks, breakfasts and lunches, too. This has to be in our menu planning and on our grocery list. When I first started dealing head on with my health issues, Leanne helped me to develop a pantry for feeding myself good food. We all have to do this, too.

It started with the first meal of the day. I am not a breakfast person unless it is a full-blown meal eaten out. I don’t feel like eating in the morning. But in order to get fuel my body, I needed to have good food in my home. I have learned that I have to eat to live, and I no longer live to eat. I couldn’t stave myself all day and then pig out for dinner. Leanne helped me put together a list of foods that is perpetually on my grocery list. I always have them in my refrigerator and my pantry. For me these are high-protein snacky type foods – yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese, almonds, deli ham and eggs. You have to adapt this list for your family and your dietary needs.

Then you have lunches. If you take your lunch, then you will need items that can easily pack or use Leanne’s website,, to produce glorious leftovers that you coworkers will beg you for. Put these things on your perpetual grocery list. Keep your pantry and refrigerator stocked so you will not have spend extra money that we don’t have right now to eat out.

Next we have to think about what we are going to cook for the next week’s evening meals. Establish a Basic Weekly Plan and make it fun. You could use an ethnic theme: Monday could be Italian, Tuesday Mexican, and Wednesday Chinese. You get the picture or you could use another formula: Monday chicken, Tuesday beef, Wednesday pork. Or you could mix it all up and say, Monday is ethnic day, Tuesday crockpot day, Wednesday soup and sandwiches, Thursday leftovers, Friday kid cook day, Saturday picnic, Sunday special dinner.

So you see menu planning does not have to be boring. You just need a template to do the scheduling. You can use your calendar for this, too. Just pencil in what you have eaten this last week to give you something to go by. Eventually you will have a whole month penciled in!

It is time to get started working on your menus and your grocery list.  Get out your pen and paper and set your timer for 15 minutes. I am not asking you to drag out all your cookbooks, we are just working on a plan.

Are you ready to save money and feed your family by establishing this new habit? Who knows it may just help you get rid of some of that Body Clutter that is in your head! You know the “I don’t have time to cook tonight” thought that comes into your head every evening at 6 p.m.
For more help getting rid of your CHAOS, check out Marla Cilley’s website and join her free mentoring group at, listen to her show, or read her books, Sink Reflections, published by Bantam, and her New York Times bestselling book, Body Clutter, published by Fireside. Copyright 2009 Marla Cilley. Used by permission in this publication.

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augusta free press news