I’m not sure about you but I am not the biggest fan of meal planning. There are things I love about it and things I do not love about it. Today I’m going to spill the beans on how I meal plan.
Hint: It takes less time than you think. You’re welcome. 😉
Watch the video below to learn all about it. If you’d rather read my thoughts those are below the video.
Meal Planning: Step 1
I meal plan a month at a time. Yep! That’s my big secret. I got so sick of doing it weekly. Then looking for coupons, and going to the store. Forget it! I was over it.
So I decided to do it less and have it take less time as well. Win, win! Now that you know my biggest time saver let me teach you how.
Meal Planning: Step 2
Take a few minutes WITH YOUR FAMILY and make a list of at least 20-30 meals that you all like. Having a master list has come in handy when I can’t think of anything to cook. You can do two things with this master list:
- Remake these meals over and over again each month. There, meal planning SUPER easy!
- Use some of these meals each month and make some new meals.
Meal Planning: Step 3
Now that you have a master list of meals your family will eat you get to make your monthly meal planning list. At the beginning of the month or the very end of the previous month sit down and make a list of meals that you can have for the month.
I use a simple sheet of paper and write down my meal categories. My categories are:
Since I am a vegetarian I don’t cook too many meals with meat. I aim for once a week. This helps us save money and eat better. Within each category write down 4-5 main meals.
I leave this monthly meal planning list on my fridge under my weekly meal planning board. (Which my 4 year old decorated with red Sharpe marker.)
This is another trick, only write down the main part of the meal. Every once in a while I’ll write sides. This will help with a step down below.
At the beginning of each week I look at my monthly meal planner and see what sounds good to eat. I try to use one from each category during the week.
Meal Planning: Step 4
Now that I have a months worth of meals I make a super big shopping trip to the grocery store. I go through each recipe to see what we have already and what we need to buy. I buy everything that will not perish soon (canned, freezer, long term fridge, etc.).
This will help you be able to have pretty much any meal anytime during the month. Who hates it when they see what was planned for dinner and they are not feeling it? Me!
By having a months worth of meals you have plenty to pick from if one is not sounding good or you end up busier that night and do not have time to make what was planned.
At the end of the month I usually have meals that I didn’t get around to making. So I use these meals for the next month and have to plan and buy even less.
Note: We have Sunday meals with Eddy’s family or mine every Sunday. We usually just bring a part of the meal. So I hardly ever have to plan for Sunday meals.
Then there are times when we have left overs or end up being at one of my parents and eat with them (I know, we are truly blessed!!). We try to plan at least one or two times we go out to eat.
Also, we have some very different tastes and likes in my family. I’m vegetarian. The rest of my family is not. I love cut up things (onions, peppers, tomatoes, etc.) but Eddy and my son do not. There are times when I cook what I want. There are times I cook it the way they like. And then there are the times I can separate the main dish and make everyone happy.
Meal Planning: Step 5
Once you have all the main ingredients for the meals you can easily see what you have for sides. Rolls in the freezer, rice, things for a salad, cooked veggies, fruit, etc.
When I’m at the grocery store I see what produce is on sale and buy that. This will give us the chance to have more produce in the house and not spend as much.
When dinner time rolls around you will have the main dish planned, many sides to pick from, and hopefully a happy family with a full stomach.
So I plan my grocery trips for the rest of the month I look to see if any main dishes need certain produce and make sure I get it close to when I plan on making it.
This means, my first grocery trip of the month I spend more then the rest. It also means that if for any reason I don’t make it to the store as soon as I thought I can always make a meal by having the ingredients for the main dish on hand and some sort of produce I can use for the sides.
I mean, can it get easier? 🙂 Meal planning made simple and easy for busy moms, dads, and families all around!
Shameless plug… Like the shirt in my video??? You’re in luck! Click here to get yours. Free shipping in the USA.
Like this post? Please share and spread the word on how easy it can be to meal plan like a champ. 🙂