In case you missed it, you can read this post to see what this series is all about.
Meal planning is one of the simpler things that we can do to help save both time and money. And yet, for some reason, it also seems to be something that can be hard to get into the habit of doing. I’m slowly working on making this a habit because I’ve found that when I have a meal plan in place, my week goes by so much smoother. This applies to even those weeks where I don’t stick exactly to the meal plan but rotate the days I use the meals I have picked for that week. Meal planning is a great way to help eliminate the, “What should I make for dinner tonight?” stress that seems to occur about 15 minutes before dinner should be ready!
Here are a few ways I’ve brainstormed to help make the meal planning process a little bit easier:
1) Set a grocery budget so I know the limits I need to stay within for each week.
2) Print out a monthly calendar and fill in the important dates to plan meals around. Make little notes of the days that I need to plan a quick meal such as parent/teacher conferences, sporting events, nights with school activities, etc.
3) Set-up a weekly theme for days such as: Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Wacky Wednesday, Seafood Thursday and Family Fridays. This will help trigger ideas for meals for those days.
4) Have the family pick one meal per week. This could be the “Family Fridays.” It will be fun to see what meal each person picks each month. It could even go so far as the person who picks the meal also has to help shop for the ingredients and cook it!
5) Keep a master meal plan updated.
6) Always check the pantry, freezer and fridge to see what meals I can make with food I already have on hand. Try to pair these with what’s on sale for the week. This will leave me with extra grocery money to stock up on food that’s at the hottest sale price that week.
7) Try to work more foods that are in-season into our meals. This will help save money and we’ll get to enjoy even fresher foods.
8) Work on getting more freezer cooking meals made so I can have a homemade meal ready for a back-up on the busy days or when the originally planned meal fails!
9) Plan a day to work in leftovers each week so nothing goes to waste. Try to use some leftover food from dinner as part of school lunches, if possible.
10) Create a meal planning folder. This will be something that I can bring with me when I get to school early to pick-up the kids so I can utilize that time for meal-planning, if need be. (I’ll share this when I finish making it!)
These are just a few ways that I’ve come up with to help the meal planning process. What things do you find help you to stay in the habit of meal planning each week?
Stay tuned for another day of brainstorming tomorrow on another “stresser.”