Meal planning is wonderful! It used to be something I dreaded, would only do for a week, then stop, and then eventually coming back to it. But I can up with an simple way to meal plan. Meal planning has helped us so much. One, I’ve saved money! Last month my goal was to get our grocery budget down to $500 and I spent $499.50. Boom. Two, it saves me the headache of not knowing what to cook and then just making something really lame and not that tasty. Lastly, if I’m going to be home late and my hubby has to cook he can look right on the fridge and see what meal we have planned for the night. It is awesome.
How to Create a Simple Meal Plan
Have a stash of go-to recipes.
You don’t have to have something different on the menu every single week. You can have a two or 3 week cycle of recipes that you cycle through.
Also, write down all of your family favorite meals in a binder, so they are easily available. I keep all my menu planning things together in a note book.
Plan a theme night.
Growing up we had pizza every Friday. Now a days we have Mexican at least one time per week. Themes make it easy to find recipes without having to recreate the wheel.
Plan 1-2 leftover nights.
I plan five meals per week. The other one of the nights is our small group for church night so I make a small side, the other night is a left over night.
Shop your pantry.
Before I make the menu plan I check out my pantry and fridge to see what we have on hand and then come up with recipes that include those items.
Plan simple meals.
Weeknight meals, especially on my work days, need to be easy and quick. I cook a whole chicken or ground beef and then use it throughout multiple meals. Some things may sound difficult like lemon chicken pasta with veggies and goat cheese. But it’s simply leftover chicken with roasted veggies and pasta topped with a little goat cheese. Not hard at all. Takes 20 minutes start to finish.
Just plan dinners.
Can you plan every meal out? Sure, but I don’t. I only plan out dinners. Breakfast is almost always oatmeal or toast with eggs and a fruit. Lunch usually is leftovers for me and leftovers or PB&Js for hubby since he is driving all over most days. Plus, planning just dinners is works and personally planning more than just that would be overwhelming for me.
Place your meal plan where everyone can see it.
I usually write my rough draft in my meal planning notebook and then write our finished meal plan for the week on a cheep white board from Target. I think it was $3 in the dollar section. It’s placed right on the fridge for everyone to see. No questions of “what’s for dinner?”
To save extra money- plan meals based on the sales ads and coupons available.
Glance through your coupons, store apps, and circular while you are creating your meal plan and base it off the sales. This helps give me ideas for recipes and helps save money.
When all else fails order pizza. Just kidding that would be the opposite point of meal planning. But it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a back up plan. Have one extra meal in the freezer ready to go like chicken pot pie, homemade pizza, lasagna, etc.
Do you meal plan? How does it work for your family?