What is reverse menu planning?
If you’re trying to save money and time, then menu planning really is one of the best things you can implement. For some people the rigidity of a menu plan just doesn’t suit their personality or shopping style. This is where reverse menu planning comes in. I can hear you asking, ‘What is reverse menu planning?’ Quite simply it’s where you shop first and plan later.
I can already hear the traditional menu planners screaming that this method defeats the whole purpose of menu planning, but hear me out. This type of menu planning can work really well for people who are great at shopping around for a bargain, utilizing coupons, buying meat and vegetables on clearance, and sticking to their weekly budget.
If you have a regular menu plan and find a lot of meat on clearance, or items on special, you are then stuck with either changing your menu plan or buying items that you know you are not going to use this week. While some people will keep these for the next week or month of menus, others like to do it differently, which is where a reverse menu plan comes in.
How do I reverse menu plan?
Shop for the bargains
The point of reverse menu planning to is to take advantage of discounts and specials and then to plan your menu around them. Use coupons, look for markdowns and read the brochures for the weekly specials. Take a list of essential items with you as well.
Write your menu plan
Come home and look at what you have bought. This is where you plan your menu plan for the week or month. Make sure to take into account what you already have in your pantry and freezer as the aim is to need to buy as little as possible on a second trip to the shops. Don’t forget to think about items that you can double up and freeze for later, slow cooker meals that you can prep and freeze and any events that you have on this week.
Write your shopping list
This is the main difference between a traditional menu plan. You write your list after you have done your main shopping. This list should be small, as you should be working mainly with the items that you have bought or already have.
Freeze what you won’t use
Once you have worked out your menu plan you may be left with items that you bought that won’t be used in any of your weekly meals. It is important to identify these items at the start of the week so that you can work out what to do with them. Some items can be frozen (meat and vegetables work well) and some can be cooked into meals to freeze for later. Don’t wait till the end of the week or you will find that you have too much wastage (we are aiming for zero food waste).
Shop from your pantry or freezer
If you are doing reverse menu planning, you are likely to end up with extra items that don’t get used up each week, as well as extra meals that you have frozen. This is fine as long as they are not going to waste. I recommend that at least once a month you shop from your pantry or freezer first. This means that you write your menu plan from what you already have (you’ll be amazed how much you have sometimes), and then only buy the items you need to turn these into complete meals. For these weeks I like to challenge myself to have a super low grocery spend – at least half of what I normally spend.