Meal planning is something that is a true game changer for me! If you can devote twenty minutes or less to getting organized on the weekend, then it can change your dinner time and budget. Even on the busiest of days, if I know what I’m making and that I have everything I need, then it takes stress and pressure off of me. My week is so much smoother if I’m organized and know what to expect. I love being organized and knowing that my week is set. To me, there is nothing worse than standing in front of the fridge, staring in, and wondering what you’re making for dinner that night. Having it all planned and shopping off of a list has cut my grocery budget in half. Some people might think that meal planning is super hard and they could never do it, but I promise that you can!! I’m going to share the four things I do when I’m meal planning and hopefully these tips might help you as well!!
The first thing I do is to get my calendar out and my notebook. I list all of the days that I am planning- we get paid biweekly, so I plan out our meals two weeks at a time. I check my calendar to see what days we might have plans that would include not eating at home. For instance, we always eat out with friends after church on Sunday and then I don’t cook another meal that evening. That’s a great opportunity for the kids to eat leftovers! Make sure to plug in any birthday celebrations or dinner meetings. Once you have done that, then you will see exactly how many days you need to plan meal for!
The next things I do is to shop my kitchen. I check my freezers and pantry to see what I have on hand that I need to incorporate into my meal plan. I start a list of possible side dishes or main courses that can be prepared with these items. This step usually fills in one or two of my needed meals, plus provides some side dishes for the other days!
Next, I ask my family if they have any requests. Sometimes I go with their requests- sometimes I don’t. My son will ask for cheeze it meatballs Every. Single. Week. If I let him. 😂😂 I will plug in some of their requests into my meal plan. I also like to check out my pinterest board for a new recipe or dish to try. If you’re like me then you have hundreds and hundreds saved, but trying to make too many of those in a week can really blow a budget. I’ve found that aiming to try one a week is a good fit for me.
The final step is to make your grocery list and go shopping. I write down everything that I will need for each meal that I have planned and mark out the things that I already have. Then I check the kitchen for staples that we may need— we seem to ALWAYS be running out of ketchup 🤦🏻♀️🤷🏻♀️Personally, I choose to drive about 25 minutes to shop at Aldi. There is another grocery store five minutes from my house that I will run to if I need something last minute or unexpected, but my major grocery haul is from Aldi. I can usually feed my family of four for two weeks for about $160. That’s huge savings from other grocery stores! And I am talking about breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We homeschool and are home during the day, so I always make sure to have sandwich supplies and pretzels on hand. We also keep cereal, pop tarts, oatmeal, and waffles for a quick breakfast!!
This whole process might seem like too much for you, but seriously it takes me about 10-15 minutes on a Sunday afternoon. (Not counting the grocery shopping). If you want to give it a try, go to hobby lobby and get a cute chalkboard menu sign for your kitchen. It will motivate you to plan it out! This makes such a huge impact on the flow of my week and I’m sure it will benefit you, too!