“Meal planning is time consuming, costly and not worth all the hassle”. When I first heard about meal planning this is how I thought about meal planning. However, I finally gave in and gave it a try and I'm hooked! I'm here to tell you that meal planning is not time consuming, costly and is far from a hassle. If you are new to meal planning then you will probably feel a little overwhelmed at first. Use these steps to meal planning and you will be well on your way to saving time and money!
Meal Planning in 6 Easy Steps
Go through your cookbooks, online recipes and search Pinterest for a recipes that your family will enjoy. The goal here is to come up with a large selection of recipes. Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try recipes that might be new to your family. Once you've gathered up all of your recipes find a way to keep them all organized. Some people like to bookmark their recipes, create a board on Pinterest, file in a binder or like myself use Evernote. The system you use doesn't matter as long as it works for you.
You will now want to start planning your menu. You can create a menu for a week, two weeks, one month or longer. Personally, I like to create a meal plan for one month so that is the method I will be using for this post.
To get started take out a piece of paper and label it breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. I like to number 1 through 30 under each menu list. I then start going through my list of recipes and write down a different recipe under each number. For example breakfast might look like cereal almost every day of the week expect weekends. Lunch might look like sandwiches, salads or soups. The most involved part of the meal planning is coming up with the dinner recipes.
Once you have your list complete you are ready to move onto the next step.
Based on the different menu items you listed in your menu, start making your grocery list. Write down every item and quantity you will need to successfully cook the items listed on your menu. I try to organize my grocery shopping list by category. Some of the categories I use are dairy, dry goods, frozen foods, meats, produce and breads. Making a complete grocery list will ensure you don't have to run out to the store every time you go to cook dinner. Once your grocery shopping list together, your ready to go shopping.
This is probably the easiest step of all! Come home from grocery shopping and put the groceries away. If you want to get brave you can start tackling your meal planning today but I like to wait until the following day.
Grab your list of recipes for the month and decide what you can prepare ahead of time. I try to do as much as I can right away. If we are eating recipes that require ground beef then I will brown up all the ground beef that I need. If I'm using any grilled chicken, I will do that all at once. The goal here is to get as much of your monthly cooking done in one day as you possibly can.
Put your monthly menu on the refrigerator or in your family planning binder and refer to it on a daily basis for all your cooking needs. Once you use a recipe off the list, cross it off. Crossing off a recipe once you have cooked it will help you keep track of what you have and haven't cooked.
Using an organized system to get your meal planning done will save you on time. Planning your meals for the month also helps you save on your grocery bill since you are not running to the grocery store for last-minute items.
What tips do you have for meal planning?