Meal planning is a great way to save time and money. Some people see meal planning as a time-consuming task that holds you to a strict schedule. Meal planning actually takes very little time and surprisingly you are not on a strict dinner schedule. The point of meal planning is to have a plan. Instead of frantically trying to figure out what ingredients you have to cook dinner, you can quickly look at your list of meals.
Have you tried meal planning?
I usually make a rough outline for the month using a lot of the meat I have on hand and planning what I need to buy to make a complete meal. I only plan our dinners because breakfast and lunches are usually simple and having a couple things on hand like cereal, milk, bread, deli meat and cheese makes them super simple. You can also use meal planning services like Once a Month Meals or search Pinterest for great ideas and create a pin board to keep going back to when you need that favorite recipe of yours!
Meal Planning Tips and Tricks
A few tips I've learned over the years include:
- Shop the Store Flyers – see what is on sale and basing your menu off of those.
- Stocking Up on Sales – when you find meat, produce or side dishes on sale, stock up so you can shop your pantry.
- Freezer Cook – With meal planning you can cook several meals in advance and freeze them. This will ensure you always have a dinner prepared.
- Create Go To Recipes – Have a binder full of your go-to recipes. This will give you a quick place to find recipes your family enjoys.
- Write Your Menu Down – You can create a menu for a week, two weeks or month. List all the meals you plan to cook. As you cook them check them off the list so you know those ingredients have been used.
Seems simple right? It might take a few weeks to get used to actually planning but once you start you'll wonder why you haven't been doing this all along. Don't forget to grab my What's Cookin' printable (pdf).
What tips would give to someone just starting out with meal planning?