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When it comes to Meal Planning and making healthy meals for our family- I fall short often. But, if you want to stick to a budget or save money Meal Planning is the first place to start!
Do I need help to use our money wisely and not waste money by letting food go bad? YES, I DO.
I mean, who enjoys throwing away produce that has gone bad? IT MAKES ME CRAZY!
This is how it goes at our home: I let the day get away from me and I forget to lay out the frozen meat to defrost and it is almost dinner time.
I’d be lying if I said that happened only a few times. So then dinner will be pizza or some other frozen convenience processed food. Because I am so busy with the kiddos I can barely think.
Don’t get me wrong, I feed my children convenient food more than I would like to admit and I am ok with that. But, I would much rather them have a meal I prepare from whole nutritious food.
Considering your timeframe is something that goes a long way with meal planning basics. You need to make sure that you are planning for a set amount of days. Most people do weekly meal planning while larger families may do planning for the whole month. The timeframe along with the food lists and goals can greatly affect your budget, so considering a timeframe is vital when planning. But, start small and go for 1 week at a time to begin.
Are you ready to save TIME and MONEY when it comes to feeding your family? I have created a printable pack that works for our family with meal planning and it may work for yours as well.
How it looks Meal Planning with this printable pack:
- Write down family favorite meals
- Write down recipes you want to try
- Check inventory of pantry, fridge, and freezer before grocery shopping
- Fill out printable with meal ideas for the month to use for reference when making weekly shopping list
- Write out a grocery list and weekly meals planned, then shop
- Follow up by checking off the meals that have been prepared each night
STEP 1: Start by making a list of family favorite meals you know how to make without recipe instructions. This is accomplished by using my Family Favorites printable.
Step 2: Then you also want to write out new meals you would like to try and write out the recipe. This is done by using the recipes to try and recipe card printable.
Step 3: Check inventory of your pantry, fridge, and freezer. To save money you will want to use
Step 4: Next I use my monthly meal ideas Printable to decide on meals for the week ahead. I usually write out 20 meals on the monthly meal idea sheet then each week I pick 5 and make a grocery list for those meals with the grocery list printable. I always leave 2 days a week for left overs.
Step 5: I then use the Shopping list printable and write my planned weekly meals. Then I write out the ingredients I don’t already have and I go shopping!
Step 6: Follow up by checking off on the monthly meal ideas printable which meals you prepared that week!
What is Meal Planning?
Meal planning is nothing more than figuring out what meals you are going to make for your family. It can be as detailed as you want, though the more information you include in your meal planning, the better off you will be. Always consider your schedule for the week when planning so you can make easy meals on your busy days and new recipes on the days you don’t have a lot of plans.
A Good Way to Start Meal Planning
If you’re not sure where to start with planning your meals, you can make it easy by taking stock of what is in your kitchen. Take note of everything in your pantry and refrigerator, write it down, and see what meals you can make from those ingredients.
This should be a good start, and then all you might need are some filler ingredients. You may have almost all of the ingredients you need for homemade biscuits, so you know you can have a meal that uses those biscuits as a way of saving money and time.
Once you know everything you already have, start considering what the different meals are that your family will be interested in, but don’t forget about considering how each of those meals will be prepared. If you know you will be pressed for time, try to think of meals you can make ahead of time or that can be made in the slow cooker all day while you are at work.
How to Be Detailed in Your Meal Plans
Once you have started jotting down some meals you would like to make during the week, try to be as detailed as possible. If you think you will have leftovers from a chicken dinner in order to have lunch for 2-3 days, note that in the plan! I love to make chicken and use it for 2 meals for the week.
Leaving Room For Flexibility Throughout the Week
While planning every meal is a great way to save time during the week and money, there are going to be some situations where it doesn’t go quite as you planned out. That is okay, Mama! Make sure you leave some room for flexibility in your meals and meal planning. I always have a frozen pizza stashed away for my difficult days!
For example, you might have a day where you want to go out to dinner because your spouse got a big promotion and you want to celebrate. Don’t hesitate to celebrate just because you planned to make spaghetti that night. Just readjust your schedule and make it another night. Meal planning is meant to simplify the process, not restrict yourself too much.
Include Leftovers in Your Plan
Always try to think about leftovers or using certain ingredients in your meal planning that can be used for multiple meals. If you know you want to make chicken and dumplings and are going to buy a pack of chicken breasts, buy more than you need and freeze them. This lets you have enough chicken for that meal, but also for chicken soup, salads, sandwiches, or other dinner ideas. You are going to save money and time by having the extra chicken on hand.
And we love these containers for leftovers! They pack well for lunch at work for my husband.