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Whether you’re reading about home productivity, ways to save money, or what’s new and great here at EverythingMom, you’ll soon see that meal planning has become hot! There’s many reasons to embrace this efficient way of shopping… and some setbacks. And then there’s the other way of shopping for your family’s food, something Wise Bread’s Philip Brewer called European-style shopping.

mealplanning-vs-euroshoppingWhich way’s the right one for you? To help you decide, consider each of these methods’ pros and cons.

Menu Planning

Pros:

* With one list to cover your entire week’s necessities, it’s likely you’ll cut back on splurges.
* You get an at-a-glance idea of what meals you’ll be preparing throughout the week, so everyone in the family knows what they’ll be eating, when.
* If you’re on a tight budget, meal planning can really amp up bulk-purchases’ power and allow you to pre-plan how leftovers will be reused in new meals.
* If you’re not comfy winging it, combining multiple recipes’ ingredients into one list is a no-brainer.
* Menu planning can be a great family activity, allowing everyone a ‘vote’, as well as the chance to learn more about nutrition and economics.

Cons:

* It’s been a long day, and you have all of the makings for a lasagna, sans energy. Or, a major event happens to throw off the week’s meal scheduling. What do you do, then?
* It can be more expensive to menu plan, if you’re not looking at the sales flyers before you select your dishes.
* For some families, menu planning can feel too rigid.
* If you’re low on storage, buying a week’s worth of food plus the occasional bulk items can be frustrating to deal with.
* “When do you have the time to sit down and plan an entire week’s menu? I don’t!” Actually, I don’t, either. I’m a Euro-style shopper, through and through.

Euro-Style Shopping

Pros:

* Fresh food, everyday. You’ll never get to the end of the week to find limp celery.
* You can nab the best sale prices, when items become available, and often the best selection (great for meats and produce).
* Are you someone who eats somewhat by the craving? This is perfect.
* If lugging heavy bags from the store to the car to the house and to the fridge and cupboards isn’t your bag, this is.
* If you thrive on routine, this can be a great daily excursion. Grab some tea and a basket and window-shop in your grocery store!

Cons:

* You’re stuck with the current prices – which might not always be great, even if they are sale prices. And if you go later in the day, you can sometimes find that the selection has dwindled.
* If you’re not confident in the kitchen, it can feel overwhelming to guess what ingredients you might need.
* If you prefer having a small list of tried-and-tested meals, shopping daily can get monotonous pretty fast.
* “Everyday? You want me to take my tired, cranky, loud child where everyday?” Well, now that you put it that way…
* It can be harder to stick to a specific grocery budget if you’re shopping daily, unless you’re fastidious about a daily spending limit.

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