We have made it an entire week into the new year! How are you guys holding up, so far, in 2017? As promised, I’m keeping my New Year, New You series going strong, so this week I bring you the topic of….meal planning!!
Call me crazy, but I enjoy meal planning. While most struggle to find a way to plan dinner on any given day, I like being prepared. With a life I live, it’s almost a must for planning.
As I was browsing through a few social media groups and posts, many fellow moms want to begin meal planning in 2017. I can safely say that it’s never too late to begin. Meal planning has saved me time, money, and sanity, for sure. Plus, with the menu laid out for the week, I don’t hear, “what’s for dinner?” as often.
There are hardcore meal planners out there that plan meals for the entire month. Kudos to you! I might get there someday. It’s just not in the budget for the time being.
I am a weekly meal planner. I plan on Thursdays, shop on Fridays, and prep on the weekends. The following are the steps I take for a successful plan and shopping trip. Take a look!
Before I sit down to meal plan, I do an inventory check. I skim the pantry, freezer and fridge for current food I have. You can find my nifty inventory sheet in the BoyMom Vault. From there, I plan one or two meals based on what’s in my food inventory. Fridge Finder is a helpful tool for this, as well. I’ve found some awesome, easy recipes, and never leave the house for extra ingredients.
2…Plan a Leftover Night
With busy lifestyles, leftover nights are handy. For instance, I’m not home for dinner on Tuesdays, so I make leftover nights happen each Tuesday. How do I make it happen? A day or two prior, I make large quantities of meals. Chili, spaghetti, and crock pot dinners are just a few examples. I’m guaranteed two or three servings of leftovers to plan for lunches or leftover nights.
3…Plan a Crock Pot Dinner (or Two)
I love crock pots, and I own two of them. One day, I plan to have an instant pot. I forgot to request one over the holidays. They seem to be fantastic for last-minute situations.
Most crock pot recipes I find feed my family of six, plus leave enough for one or two lunches the following day. Another advantage to crock pot dinners is that I know what ingredients I include. I know that these meals are more filling and healthy, without much effort.
Anyways, crock pot dinners are a must in one or two nights of meal planning. Even when I worked outside of the home (a few years back), I enjoyed coming home to a simmering dinner that I threw together earlier that morning. Now that I work from home, I still prepare, forget, and can focus on other needs during my busy days.
4…Fill in the Gaps with Easy Dinners
I classify an easy dinner as something that is five ingredients or less. The dinner must also be prepped and cooked within 30 minutes in order to qualify for this category. That’s just my personal preference, though!
At this point, you should have a meal plan covered for the week. If you do, it might look something like this:
5…Create Grocery List
Once you have compiled your meals for the week, it’s time to prepare your grocery list. You can find the grocery list template in the vault, as well. Make sure you list food with quantities of items you need. Also, find three to four things (extra snacks, for instance) to add to your list. This is a must to help you stick to the list while grocery shopping. This also helps reduce impulse buying.
6…Search for Coupons or Cash Back
If you enjoy saving money, check out this blog post about the apps I use to earn cash back on groceries. Also, check your local ads and stores with digital coupons for sale items that will help you save money. I add this step because I have a large family. I will do whatever it takes to save money on my grocery bill with their nonstop appetites!
Once you have the meal plan and grocery list made, this is the easiest step of them all. I shouldn’t have to go into too much detail on what to do here!
On a typical day, I spend about an hour meal planning. This includes finding rebates, coupons, and skimming grocery ads. I do have weeks, on occasion where life happens, but I can notice a difference in the budget and lifestyle when I don’t plan ahead. That one hour each week makes a huge difference!
If you enjoy my printables, you can earn an all-access pass to the BoyMom Vault. I upload all my free printables, downloads, recipes, and more! If you don’t have access, you could be missing out on the fun.
Are you a meal planner? How do you meal plan for your family? Share with me below!