Meal Plan 101We are all short on time and money is tight these days. So how to you create a meal plan that you can stick to?
Start by breaking your meal plan into 5 easy steps:
- Look at the week’s calendar
- Gather recipes
- Look at the ingredients
- Grocery shop
- Post your menu
Meal Plan Step 1: Look at the week’s calendarWhat does your calendar look like this week? Do you have to work late? Kids have soccer practice? What is the busiest day? If we are trying to save money on the grocery budget, running through the drive-thru is not going to be an option even though it is convenient.
- Your busiest day should be your easiest day – Think crockpot or freezer meal.
- Have you been invited to a friend’s house for dinner or is there a church potluck?
Meal Plan Step 2: Gather recipesSit down with cookbooks, magazines or the internet and make a list of recipes that you want to try and that are tried and true. You want a 5-6 for dinners. Don’t forget that you want to have meals for breakfast and lunch, too.
- I prefer 5 dinners so that we can have a couple of leftover nights. If you have a bigger family you might not have leftovers.
- This gives wiggle room for the unexpected invites, a meal out (if your budget allows).
- If you shop every week on a particular day, you want to have meals planned ahead to make it through that day.
Meal Plan Step 3: Look at the ingredientsWrite down all the ingredients for all the meals. This way you don’t forget something.
- Go through your pantry, frig, freezer, etc. Cross off everything that you already have.
- What is left should be the main basis of your shopping list
- Add the other essentials to your grocery list- bread, milk, cereal, lunch meat, etc.
- Go through your store circulars to see what is on sale that you may want to stock up on. (Chicken, ground beef, canned goods, etc.)
- Pull your coupons and look for price matching.
Meal Plan Step 4: Grocery ShopGo grocery shopping.
- Eat something before you leave. It sounds like a wives tell but you really do spend more when you shop hungry.
- If possible, leave the kids at home. They can add to your time crunch and bottom line with extra add-ons.
- Buy ONLY the items on your grocery list. The grocery store is designed to make you spend more. Don’t get distracted and no impulse buying.
- The only EXCEPTION is something that is on sale for an extremely good price or clearance items that you will actually use.
Meal Plan Step 5: Post your menuPost your meal plan on the frig. It will remind you what you are planning to eat every day. This is keep you on track.
- Each day or the night before pull the meat you are going to use out of the freezer. Prep as much as possible. This will cut down on how long it takes from start to finish.
- Cross off the items as you make them
I hope that this inspires you to get started meal planning this week!
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