Why plan a menu?
1. Wasted food is wasted money.
Would you toss $10 bills into your kitchen trash can? I wouldn't. By planning a menu, you use the food you have purchased before it spoils.
2. "What's for dinner?" is always answered.
You can help make your week less chaotic by having a plan. You can also prep for the night's dinner the morning of, the day before, or even on a weekend day as needed.
3. You can plan for food variety throughout the day.
My kids won't normally eat a fruit AND a vegetable at every meal but they will eat one or the other. If we've planned our fruit for breakfast and/or lunch, then we can enjoy a veggie with dinner. Same thing with protein v. carbs. Well, at least the adults will get this balance. The kids ... well, it depends on the day!
4. You can rotate in new recipes with old standards.
Maybe you are planning on grilling sausages on Sunday, so why not grill the whole package and make a pasta sauce with the leftovers? Having baked potatoes? Find a new potato recipe to try that week. Making spinach salad with dried cranberries and blue cheese? Throw the cranberries in some couscous or add the blue cheese on some hamburgers, perhaps made with meat you've had in the freezer. You have the ingredient on hand that week so you aren't spending any extra cash finding new things to eat. It's a win-win.
5. You'll be amazed at how much your grocery bill shrinks when you don't add "extras" to your cart.
Sticking to the list created by your weekly menu is key. Believe me, you can impulse shop/have retail therapy at the grocery store. If you ignore the "on sale" spices you'll never use, resist the massive bag of Oreos, and pass up the case of juice boxes, you're already on your way to more cash in your wallet. And you can use that cash for a nice Starbucks at the drive-thru location on the way home from the store. After all, saving money doesn't have to be boring.