For the longest time, I’ve always set a day of the week that I plan my meals for the next upcoming week. Meal planning not only helps with my stress level of trying to figure out what the hell to eat each day, but also helps not overspend on random foods and then end up throwing away wasted produce because we didn’t know what to make with it or didn’t have an ingredient to go with it. Believe me, I’ve been there done that. I’ve done it all.
We’ve also tried the whole meal prepping thing, and honestly, meal prepping is just something that doesn’t work for us. My husband especially doesn’t like to eat left over food…and I’m not going to lie, I don’t really like to either. So, whenever we tried to meal prep, by day 3-4 we got sooo over eating the same type of food, that it ended up being thrown out.
So, the only thing that works for us is meal planning, and I’m going to walk you exactly how I do it.
Step 1- What do you still have in the fridge or freezer?
So food doesn’t go to waste, I have a “what’s in my freezer” note and “what’s in my fridge” note.
As you can see I have categorized my “what’s in my freezer” note to meats, breakfast items, lunch items, veggies/fruits, and others. Doing this helps me figure out what needs to be cooked, so it doesn’t go bad, and also helps with my spending. If I still have a freezer of meats, I obviously don’t want to spend money on more meat… unless there is an awesome deal going on that I just can’t pass up.
I also do the same thing with my “what’s in my fridge” note. Again this helps with over buying things that I already have, and this also helps with being able to create recipes with items I already have in my fridge.
So, once I figure out what I have in my fridge/freezer and have updated my notes, I then figure out what type of meals I can create.
Step 2- Have a budget
Whenever I grocery shop, I try and stick with a budget. Not saying that it always happens, but for the most part, I stick to it.
My budget will include my grocery money and I also budget money for home necessities like body wash, toilet paper, cleaning products, etc.
Step 3- keep breakfast meals and lunches simple
When it comes to us eating, my kids have 3 meals a day and roughly 2-3 snacks a day, however, my husband and I usually skip breakfast and have our first meal around lunch time. So, when I plan my meals I don’t ever plan for 3 meals… just 2. There are always breakfast items stocked in our freezer/pantry at all times, which is why I don’t ever need to meal plan for breakfast. But, when I do meal plan for our lunches, I try and make things easy for us. Also, something that is overly filling, but filling enough to make it to dinner. So, I typically like to do sandwiches, salads, breakfast meal… like eggs, sausage or bacon, and toast, or tacos.
Step 4- plan out dinner meals
Whenever, I plan out our dinner meals, I live to plan out roughly 6 meals. We typically like to eat out at least 1x a week, when my husband has a day off. So, based on what we still have in our freezer, I base my meals of that, just so any frozen meats are used. Then, once all that is gone then I’ll typically plan for other meats. Now, don’t get me wrong, sometime we only have chicken stocked up in the freezer, and if you are anything like me, you get sick and tired of eating chicken all the dang time… so then I’ll add another type of meat or fish just to change up some of our meals.
Cookbooks and Pinterest are my greatest tool when it comes to trying new recipes out, which is something that I always try to incorporate. I think this helps not get tired of the same food you are constantly making.
Step 5- write out what items to need to buy
So, once I have a meal plan, I then figure out what I need to buy. So, I write out a list right next to my meals and figure out what I need and how much I need. Then I like to highlight the items based on the stores I need to go too. Unfortunately, I am NOT a one shop gal. I’d be lucky if I can get all my grocery shopping done at one place. I mean, I technically can, but I also feel that shopping at Sam’s Club and/or Costco is beneficiary to my family since we are a family of 4 and have 2 growing children that eat more and more now. So, I typically go to 2-3 grocery store each week… which luckily they are near each other, so it’s not really a big deal at all.
Hopefully, these steps that I do, will guide you into meal planning a little bit better. The biggest change I’ve noticed when it comes to meal planning is creating the “whats in my…” notes. It’s helps so much with not waste produce and also helping with not wasting money as well.
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