Meal planning is as simple as it sounds. It is strategically planning meals for a certain amount of days, weeks, or even (sometimes) months of time to eliminate any last minute scurries to prepare dinner or extra stops at the grocery store.
Why meal plan?
Meal planning is a great way to minimize the amount of money that you spend on groceries because it reduces the number of trips to the grocery store and buying unnecessary items. Not only does it save you time and money, but it encourages you to eat healthier, homemade meals. Just like exercise, once you get in the routine of meal planning you can’t stop, and you’re thankful that you’re doing it!
Ever since I became a whole foods, foodie, I have been faithfully meal planning. Choosing organic, whole foods over conventional, processed foods can get a bit costly. It was certainly an adjustment for me, so in order to stay within my budget, I had to meal plan.
I have found that trying to meal plan for any amount of time shorter or longer than a week just throws me off completely, not to mention it can get a bit overwhelming when you try to come up with meals for an entire month! Here are a few of my tips and tricks on how to effectively meal plan:
1) Pick one day every week to write out your list and go to the store
2) Write down your meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (if you don’t you will probably forget them)
3) Keep your recipes easily accessible and organized (Pinterest, recipe book, printed off, etc.)
4) Take inventory of the ingredients that you already have for the recipes, and write down the ingredients that you still need to get. Also, keep an ongoing grocery list of regular things that you use and have run out of to add to your weekly grocery list (i.e. milk, butter, eggs, etc)
5) One of my favorite things to do to eliminate meal planning chaos is to have theme nights. We have Mexican, Italian, and breakfast for dinner on certain nights of the week.
The best advice that I can give you to become a successful meal planner is to stay organized and consistent. I make out my grocery list and go to the store every Monday morning. I keep all of my meals and grocery list on the same page. After I have been to the store I hang the piece of paper up on my refrigerator for the week, so I am always reminded of what we will be eating and when.
Plan your meals according to ingredients that you already have handy. Also, chose meals based on sale items at the store. Check out your weekly ads to find what is on sale and find a way to incorporate them into your meal plan for more savings.
With it being a new year, it is a great time to get motivated and start meal planning. I hope you find these tips helpful and encouraging on your meal planning journey.
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