Meal planning was always something that sounded really complicated and time consuming to me. You mean, I have to plan a menu and shopping list before going grocery shopping?? But my husband and I had a lot of issues revolving around food in our household, so it was time to change things up!
I’m going to share with you why I started meal planning, so that you can better gage if it would be a good fit for you, as well as how I meal plan.
Have you ever had the dinner fight with your spouse? Ya know, when it’s dinner time but neither one of you have the slightest idea of what to have or what you can even make with what’s in your fridge or pantry? My husband and I had this fight plenty, many times. The fight was always extra terrible because we were both hungry – obviously.
Well, since starting to meal plan, I’ve completely eliminated that fight from our repertoire. Now we have more time to fight about other stuff! Just kidding… kinda.
We were also wasting a lot of food. We’d buy produce, have no use for it, and then eventually have to toss it because it spoiled. This didn’t sit well with us for a few reasons: 1) someone would have loved to have that food and 2) we wasted our hard-earned money.
Another issue we had is that we seemed to never have all the ingredients to try new recipes. We were always missing one or two things, which either forced an impromptu trip to the store or we just decided not to make something new and fell back on a dish we’d make all too often. Our fall backs were tostadas and spaghetti with Italian sausage. Let me tell you – I will be one happy lady if I never have to have another tostada again!
It was very important to me that how I meal planned was easy. Call me lazy, but I have a lot on my plate and find that things that are too complicated just don’t last. Meal planning needed to be simple so that I would actually do it.
The first thing I did was get familiar with our pantry. I took a mental inventory of things we already had and what our staples were – things that weren’t for a specific recipe but were good to have around, such as milk, cheese, cereal, etc.
Then I turned to good, ol’, trusty Pinterest for recipes.
When I’m looking for recipes…
- I try to find ones that include lots staples that we already purchase. I find this helps keep the cost down.
- I only like to buy one or two components that are specifically for a recipe. And if a recipe calls for a more expensive item, I’ll find another recipe for that week that also uses it.
- I look for ones that all feature the same meat. It’s not uncommon for us to have all chicken one week, sausage the next, etc.
Now, I personally meal plan in my bullet journal. If you’re like, “what the heck is a bullet journal?”, click here. Keeping it in my BuJo just helps me to stay more organized. Plus, then I always have a firm surface to cross items off as I shop at the store.
So I have a full, two page spread dedicated to meal planning in my BuJo. For my actual menu and shopping list, I write that on a large post it note (that is so bright it nearly blinds me) that gets tossed every week. I do this to save on space in my BuJo.
The first thing I do is decide on a menu. As you can see, I write my menu at the top. Now, I go grocery shopping weekly and always cook with the intention of having left overs for the next day. This means I only plan (and thus cook) three meals a week. That gives us six planned meals for the week and a day for an easy dinner, like breakfast or a chef salad. Let me tell you, planning and cooking only three meals a week has been life changing. It removes so much of the stress and overwhelm of having to slave away in the kitchen every evening.
Once the menu has been decided, then I begin creating my shopping list. I divide up my shopping list into four categories: meats, dairy, produce, and misc. This mainly helps when it comes to actually shopping – when I’m in a specific area of the store, I can see exactly what items I need from that area at a glance. When making my shopping list, the first thing I do is write down the staples we always buy and the pantry items we’ve run out of through out the week (I write these items down on a notepad on our fridge as we run out so I don’t forget about them). After that is done, I go through the recipes for the week and write down any remaining ingredients.
After my menu is planned and the list is created, I’ll double check it.
I love what meal planning has done for us! We argue less (over food, anyways) and save money. It also pushes me to regularly try new recipes, which is great for us because we really enjoy a diverse menu.
Question of the Day:
What’s your fall back meal that you never want to eat again?
What’s your favorite recipe?
As always, thanks for being here and reading what I have to say! If you found this post informative and helpful, please consider sharing (via Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, etc) in order to help others. Thank you so much!