Do you struggle to think of a meals daily? Is finding time to cook a stretch for you? Are you stopping at the grocery store multiple times a week? If you find yourself answering yes to these questions it’s time to start meal planning! Planning our meals has made our life SO much easier and saved us money. Taking time once a week or every other week to plan your meals in advance can save you a lot of time, energy, stress, and money. Note: If you’re looking for tips on meal prep, you won’t find it here, this is meal planning. Meal prep doesn’t happen in our house, meal planning is considered a WIN. If you’d like weekly ideas on a meal plan, head over to my Instagram page where I post our weekday menu weekly.
Step 1: Get out some paper. I plan on scratch paper because why not? I typically plan meals from Sunday to Saturday but occasionally I’ll be extra ambitious and plan two weeks out, this can be especially helpful if you’re going to be busier than usual. I also like to have second piece of paper to start the grocery list.
Step 2: Look at your calendar. Are there nights you have plans to be gone over supper? Are there nights part of the family will be gone? Do you have a date night scheduled? Are there nights you’ll be home later so you want something quick or in the crock pot? Are there nights you need an simple meal because the other half is going to be cooking? Mark these nights on your meal planning paper.
Step 3: Look in your pantry, fridge, and freezer. What do you have on hand? Are there any meals that jump out to you right away? Maybe you already have all the ingredients you need for spaghetti; put that on your meal plan. Look for meals which you have almost all the ingredients and would only need to pick up one or two things. Do you have everything you need for meatballs except eggs? Great put meatballs on your meal plan and eggs on your grocery list.
Step 4: Start the search. We like to eat a variety of foods and try new recipes so once I have written down the few things I have everything (or almost everything) on hand for I’ll look through our cookbooks and Pinterest for a inspiration and new recipes.
Step 5: Take your list to the store. And stick to it! Don’t grab miscellaneous items you don’t actually need and don’t go to the store when you are hungry. Remember to take your reusable bags.
A few extra tips:
- Keep a bread pan in the fridge to thaw meat for the week. This keeps all the meat and mess in one place.
- If you love pasta as much as I do, buy basic noodles whenever they are on sale so you always have an easy dish on hand.
- Again if you love pasta, make your own alfredo sauce. Here’s the link for my favorite one, the ingredients are simple things we always have on hand because they are “basics”.
- Buy minced garlic dried at the farmers market (there’s a Preston local who sells at the Rochester market) or minced in a jar at the grocery store to save yourself a step. Garlic goes in everything.
- Make your own taco seasoning. It’s an easy thing to have on hand and making it yourself saves you a lot of sodium intake! I omit the salt all together.
- Include a “choice” night in your meal plan, also known as eat your leftovers and take a break from cooking!
- Review the grocery store ad before looking for recipes so you have an idea of what’s on sale this week.
I hope this helps you with your meal planning plus saves you time, food, and money!