I have written about meal planning before but it’s been a few years and I’ve slightly changed how I do it, so I thought I’d revisit the topic. The way I meal plan is so easy, and even though it takes a little time, at the same time it’s a valuable tool and saves me so much time in the long run!
The first thing that’s important is to write your recipes on a meal calendar. Here’s the one I use.
It doesn’t have to be this one but it’s important that you write your recipes down so that you have a visual aid for what is available to be made for dinner that week(s). Even though I have Mon-Sun written out on the top of my calendar I don’t actually go by the days, I usually decide what to make for dinner based on what I feel like making, or what I have time to make.
Before we get started you’ll also need a grocery list. This is the one I use and I love it! You can print it from this post.
Now it’s time to find recipes. I still use my recipe boxes from time to time but often times I go to Pinterest to find recipes. I have lots of recipe boards, with hundreds of delicious recipes, which makes it fun and easy to switch things up all the time, rather than making the same things over and over.
I scroll through my recipe boards and each time I come across a recipe I want to add to my menu I right click on it and open it in a new tab. Keep scrolling until you have as many recipes as you need opened up in new tabs. I meal plan for 2 weeks so I usually have about 8 other tabs open.
Write each recipe on your meal calendar as you open it in another tab. I always make little notes for how longs something takes to cook if I’ve never made it before, or if it’s a crockpot vs. stovetop recipe. These are helpful for when I’m trying to decide what to make for dinner each day. If I’ve written down crockpot then I know I need to get the meat out of the freezer the night before or put it in the crockpot first thing in the morning, etc.
Next it’s time to make our shopping list. One at a time open each of the recipe tabs and click over to the site where the recipe is written out. Look through the ingredients and write the ones you don’t already have, on your grocery list. Always double check to see if you already have some of the ingredients in your pantry/fridge because you will save so much money not buying things you already have on hand!
Once your grocery list is complete head to the store!
Place your meal calendar somewhere that’s easily visible and will remind you to look at it each morning. I have mine in the pantry and every morning I look at it, decide what I’m going to make that day, pull out meat to defrost (if I need to), take note of about how long it will take me to make that recipe (so I know what time I need to start making dinner) and then I can relax the rest of the day knowing exactly what my plan is for dinner that night!
To be honest I don’t always enjoy meal planning because it takes a little extra time before I can head to the store but I am always thankful that I do it because it saves me so much time each night and it saves us so much money because I’m not buying unnecessary food items at the store!
Have you ever given meal planning a shot? If you haven’t then it’s time to start, trust me you’ll be thankful you did! Please feel free to leave me a comment if you have any questions about my method. 🙂
Another money saver is to look through the grocery store flyers, see what’s on sale, and your family likes, plan around these. Who doesn’t like variety, happy family, plans?!
That’s a great idea, thanks for sharing! 🙂