Having an emergency menu plan for your family is an important part of any emergency preparation plan. If you lose your job, have a “tight” month or suffer a big drop in income for any reason, your emergency menu should already be set up for your family to fall back on. Planning an emergency menu might seem like a huge task, but it’s really not. It just takes a bit of thought.
How To Plan An Emergency Menu For Your Family
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To start, you’ll need to identify the “bargain” foods that your family likes and gather any recipes that you have that include those items. This could include things like beans, rice, or pasta. You’ll also want to figure out any canned meats your family likes, such as tuna or canned chicken. No, they’re not as healthy as fresh meat, but sometimes they’re much cheaper when your grocery budget is tight. If you’re concerned about health, beans are full of fiber and protein and can make an excellent substitute for meat when you don’t have a lot of money.
Now, set a budget for your emergency menu. Some of the tightest ones will feed a family of 4 for $50 or $100 a week, but it will take a little bit of effort to get yours that low if it’s not something your used to doing. But it definitely can be done, so don’t give up!
Next, start going through your “bargain” recipes. Hopefully you have more than a handful that you can choose from. Lay them out in a calendar style so that you can see how many days you have. It might be helpful to write their titles on sticky notes and stick them on an actual calendar. Don’t forget that you can repeat meals every other week or so without too much repetition. Also, leftovers should become your friend if you’re on a strict budget, so make sure to include them, too. I’ve also added links at the bottom of this post for resources for menu plans if you need help in this area.
After you’ve got your menu laid out, total up the dollar amount of the ingredients you would need to make all of the meals listed. If you already coupon and shop sales, try to include any regular discounts that you are aware of (maybe your grocery store always marks down chicken at the end of the month). Take the amount you come up with and add $5-$10 extra to account for the times when you forget to bring your coupons, or your usual bargain brand is out of stock. Is this final number under the dollar amount you initially set for your budget? If so, great! You’re done! Write your menu down and call it good.
If not? It’s time to re-work it. Remove the 2 most expensive meals and replace them with something else. Keep in mind that recipes tend to share ingredients, so you’ll likely already have at least part of the ingredients that you would need when you go to cook these meals.
After a bit of re-working, you should have a good budget menu that your family can use for emergencies. Stash it, and copies of the recipes that go with it, in a folder or kitchen binder. Then make sure to keep it someplace where you’ll be able to find it easily. Hopefully you’ll never need it, but if you ever do, it should give you a little peace of mind to know that your meals are already planned out.
Here are some links you might find useful:
Do you have an emergency menu planned out?
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