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Meal Planning Tips
Creating a meal plan a month at a time allows me to focus on other important things. Meal planning helps save time, money, and frustration. We all know the more we have to go to the grocery store, the more money we will spend on things not on our list. Now just because I have a plan does not mean things don’t come up. To help with situations where things didn’t quite go as planned, keep a few emergency backup meals. These could be freezer meals, frozen pizzas, or something that is easy such as meatless baked ziti. Here are some of my tips for meal planning.
I like to come up with my plan a few days before the month starts. Creating meals around events that are already on the calendar is essential for success. For example, if there is a doctor appointment on the calendar, I can plan to have a slow cooker meal that night. If we are going out to dinner to celebrate someone’s birthday, I can write that on my meal plan to skip making dinner that night. Doing a monthly meal plan also allows me to diversify the type of main dishes we eat. Having baked chicken 4 days in a row can get kind of old so I mix and match my recipes.
Grocery list and shopping
I’d like to try to keep trips to the store to once a week. This keeps fruit, vegetables, and bread fresh but also keeps the spending down to a minimum. Meal planning around what I have in my pantry and fridge that needs to be used up is something I tend to struggle with, however, I am getting a little better as time goes on. I first look at what I have at home, find a recipe that includes those ingredients, and add any other needed ingredients to my shopping list. This keeps the food in the pantry, fridge, and freezer rotating and helps save money by not letting things expire.
Have a meal that repeats
Another thing that helps me with meal planning as having a meal that repeats once a week. We have nacho tacos every Tuesday night. For Taco Tuesday, we make nachos using ground beef, taco seasoning, onions, and peppers on top of chips and covered with shredded cheese. Each week I know that we will need those ingredients making each Tuesday extremely easy to plan for. Both my husband and I enjoy our Nacho Taco Tuesday!
I have created a free printable which includes a monthly meal planner broken down by each week. The sections can be used for planning appointments, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can create a plan around your events such as doctor appointments, kids’ sports, school events, and holidays. There is also a notes section on the meal planning page for anything miscellaneous things you want to track. In this area, you could write the page number from your favorite cookbook to find the recipe you have scheduled that week or if you are in charge of the kids’ sports team snacks that week. Also included, is a page for your grocery list week-by-week. You can go ahead and start planning each week’s grocery list and add to it when necessary before you go to the grocery store.
Having a printout on the fridge so everyone can see it and know what to expect is a great help. I would recommend using a sheet protector to put all of your sheets together on the fridge and even the recipes you plan to use.