Get Organized: Meal Planning 101

  • Are you tired of throwing out food?Meal Planning
  • Do you often run to the grocery store to pick up one or two items to complete a recipe?
  • Are you tired of thinking about what to make for dinner everyday?
  • Are you sick of eating the same things over and over again?
  • Do you think you are spending too much money on groceries?

If you answered yes to more than one of these questions than you and I have a lot in common. For years I would go to the grocery store and wander the aisles putting groceries in my cart, some needed and some fanciful, some sale items and some necessary and about $100 or so later leave the store without items to make enough meals for a week. It took me years and years and multiple mini trips to the grocery store between my big shops to figure out that I needed to become intentional about grocery shopping and that a trip to the grocery store starts long before you walk out the front door.

Now I begin my trip to the grocery store by coming up with a bi-weekly meal plan. I take a piece of paper and write on it the days of the week I’m planning for. I make sure to note special happenings on any of the upcoming days, for example: medical appointments, sports activities, extra dinner guests or fewer people at the table. Then I begin filling in the meals. I pull out my favorite recipe books for inspiration, ask family members to write in meals they would like to have, check flyers from our local grocery stores to include sale items and check my favorite magazines for recipes I’d like to try.

Right now I don’t include breakfast or lunch, but if you have a big family you might want to.

Once the meal plan is complete, I begin jotting down, on a separate list, the ingredients I will need to buy in order to make each meal. (Make sure to check your cupboards and freezer and omit the ingredients you already have on hand.) If you are doing a two-week shop it might be advisable to buy one week’s worth of perishable items at a time depending on the time of year.

When the meal plan is complete post it on your fridge so everyone can see what’s for dinner. You’ll also know what to take out of the freezer each day.

Once you have your shopping list ready, you’ll have to add staples such as milk, butter, eggs and bread as needed (and breakfast and  lunch items if you are focusing on dinners only). You might want to check your coupon stash against your list. I like to put a star beside those items I’m buying that I have a coupon for, that way I’m sure to use it when I’m at the check out. Now you’re ready to head out to the store. You’ll buy only the items you need, save not only money and time but also the frustration of having to come up with meal ideas on a daily basis.

You’ll soon enjoy the convenience of having all the ingredients on hand to make each meal and you won’t be wasting your time running to the store every other day to pick up any items you forgot to get the last time you were there. I find using a meal plan also eliminates that age-old question: What are we having for dinner tonight?

Menu plans are also a good way to ensure that you and your family are eating healthy and balanced meals.

~Happy meal planning!

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