I’ve talked before about how the greatest wiggle room in most budgets is usually found in the grocery budget. Meal planning is the #1 way I’ve found to save on the groceries and it doesn’t take a domestic diva or extreme couponing to do it.
Meal planning reduces those “what’s for dinner?” worries, cuts down on the last-minute trips to the store to buy items that aren’t on sale, and it reduces the waste caused by leftovers that have been in the fridge a little too long.
How does meal planning work? Well, just like it sounds, you plan your meals in advance. Some people plan for a week at a time, some do months at a time. My husband is paid monthly so I typically plan for 14 meals, though not always.
How do I get started? The easiest way to start is to write down your 5 favorite meals, add a salad and potato night and a leftover night, and there’s your menu plan for a week. If you’re ambitious plan to make doubles and freeze the extra, and you’re set for two weeks. Browse the internet for some new recipes to try that you think you’re family will like.
When you’re really stuck you can try the theme night trick, it goes something like this:
Monday – Meatless
Tuesday – Mexican
Wednesday – Slow Cooker night
Thursday – Chicken
Friday – Asian
Saturday – Leftovers or soup
Sunday – Roast
Easy, right? If nothing else, write down every meal you eat for two weeks and you have a good base to use next month. If you’re like me you also have to plan lunches, but that’s easy, just make some extra dinner and have leftovers. I don’t go as far as to plan breakfast, but I do have the same stuff available almost all the time (old fashioned oatmeal, homemade bagels, homemade freezer waffles, bread & peanut butter, etc).
You will automatically save money by meal planning, but your savings will increase when you plan your meals around what’s in your pantry/freezer. See this article for for more information on increasing your stockpiled supplies.
What are you waiting for?
Here’s my menu plan for this week:
Monday – Creamy Pasta Primavera (pasta, frozen California veggie mix, italian dressing and cream cheese)
Tuesday – Salad & Calzones (homemade dough, ham, pepperoni, spinach, mozzarella and pasta sauce)
Wednesday – Kid’s birthday dinner (Orange chicken, rice & cake)
Thursday – burritos (chicken, cheese, sauce, burrito shells)
Friday – My birthday dinner, I’m still undecided! I’m thinking Tandoori chicken and Asian veggies
How are your meals looking this week?