Meal planning is a wonderful tool that not only saves you money in the grocery store but will save your sanity by giving you a written guideline for the week. Grab some hibiscus tea and let me show you how to start meal planning.
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Choose A Day to Meal Plan
Carve out time for yourself to write a meal plan. Usually, the night before you shop is a good time. My day to meal plan is Thursday afternoon when we are finished with school. If I need anything at the store, we try to go on Thursday evening.
My husband is home on the weekends, and that is usually when we do big projects for the homestead. I want to make the most of his time off work and I don’t want to waste time by shopping all day Saturday. Also, Friday is when I like to do bulk cooking after our homeschool is finished so Thursday is a great day for me to pick up any needed items.
If you are struggling with finding time to cook read my post on 6 ways to help you find time to cook.
Choose a Template
You do not need anything fancy to write down a meal plan. It can simply be a piece of blank printer paper or if you like, a fancy printed template. There are many free templates on the internet such as these that make it feel more “official” if you will.
You also need a separate piece of paper for a grocery list. Again, a plain piece of paper works, or you can print out a premade template. Of course, you need a pencil or pen whichever you prefer.
Now, if you are higher tech than me and enjoy keeping all of this information on your phone or tablet, you sure can do it that way too. I am just an old-fashioned paper and pen kind of gal but do what works best for you.
Check Your Calendar
Look over your schedule for the week and be aware of the activities that you have planned. What days are the busiest and what days are more flexible. Keep this in mind when you are assigning meals to those particular days.
Check Your Pantry
Check around your freezers and pantry shelves and see what needs to be used up first. Use these items on your menu before buying new at the store.
If you follow my blog for long, you will hear me repeat myself over and over again. You need a well-stocked pantry! I mean at minimum a month’s worth of food for your family. This not only prepares you for bigger emergencies, but also everyday life situations. Read How to Stock Your Pantry and Top 10 Pantry Staples to get started.
Choose the Recipes
Now, based on your schedule coming up and what food products you already have in your pantry, choose the meals and recipes you want to make for the week. Write down the items you need on your grocery list.
Try to choose meals that will give you leftovers or a few crockpot meals to make things easier on you.
If you plan on going out to eat with your family notate that on your menu plan as well.
Where Can You Find the Recipes
Online: You can find recipes everywhere online; on blogs such as this one, you can pin recipes on Pinterest, or find websites dedicated to recipes. Allrecipes.com, TasteofHome.com, and simplyrecipes.com are a few websites that will help you get started.
Library: You might think the library is a little old fashioned, but they do have many cookbooks and magazines that you can find wonderful recipes in.
As you begin to collect recipes you may want to organize them in their own dedicated space. I use a three-ring binder with divider tabs to keep my recipes organized.
Prep the Food
After you bring your food home from the grocery store, take the time to do some food prep. Cut up the vegetables, take the meat out of the freezer to thaw, marinate the meat, shred the cheese, or do anything that makes things go smoothly during the week.
I have a tub in my refrigerator that I put my meat in at the beginning of the week. This way when the meat thaws the tub catches any liquid. Having this tub really helps me stay on track because I get all of the meat that I will be using for the week, out of the freezer at one time. No more forgetting to thaw the meat.
Be Flexible with Your Meal Plan
Remember that your meal plan is just a guide. If you wrote pizza night on Wednesday and Wednesday comes around and you decide you want Spicy Beef and Lentil Soup which was designated for Friday, then change it!
Having all the ingredients for each recipe gives you the freedom to change things up. This is why I love having a stocked pantry and a meal plan. It really does give you freedom to be flexible.
Congratulations! You did it! You are ready to conquer the week with your meal plan.
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