The first thing I noticed when I started meal planning was how much money we saved each month. A couple of days ago, I was cleaning out my desk when I found our monthly budgets from a few years ago (before we started meal planning). And holy cow! We were spending over $750 a month for a family of 3, one of which was a toddler who barely ate anything! Once I realized how much we were overspending, our meal planning journey began.
Before I jumped into meal planning, I sat down, did a little research (hello Pinterest), and finally made the decision that meal planning was the way to go. We decided we would only shop once a week, with a detailed list, and a budget in mind. If you are like us and are spending too much on groceries every week, you are in the right place! It’s time to organize your meals with a weekly meal plan.
Benefits of Meal Planning:
Of course saving money is a huge benefit, but there are also a few others. When you plan ahead, you can create healthy meals for your family instead of just throwing together whatever you find in your fridge. I will say, we do have pizza Friday every week, but you of course do not have to do that!
Meal planning also reduces the trips to the grocery store. (If you have small children like us, this is a huge benefit! hahaha) I used to find myself or my husband making two or three extra trips a week because we forgot this or that. Somehow those extra trips also ended up with extra cookies or cake, oops!
With a meal plan, you are more likely to get everything you will need all in one trip. Our biggest thing was that it reduced the stress of “Babe, what are we having for dinner tonight?!” and you look at him like a deer in headlights? Yeah, that look… well with a meal plan it doesn’t happen as often. Instead we look at the fridge planner and see the entire week’s schedule ahead of time so we can prepare accordingly.
Create a List of Meals Your Family Enjoys
Before you start planning your meals, make a list of your family’s favorites. Does your family love Taco Tuesday? Or salads? Maybe you have a favorite soup? Write those down! You can also search favorite main ingredients in Pinterest to freshen up your list every once ad awhile. Once you have your list, pick your daily theme. Having a daily theme makes choosing each meal a little easier. Our daily themes look like this:
Sunday- Whole Roasted Chicken & different sides each week
Monday- Meatless Monday
Wednesday- Instant Pot (LOVE my Instant pot!)
Thursday- Salad (Salads don’t have to be boring, check Pinterest for some tasty ideas)
Friday- Pizza Night!
Saturday- Seafood (We live near the water, so fresh seafood is easy to come by.)
Have fun picking the themes of your days, they do not have to look anything like mine! We also have a list of our “Go To Meals” that we use when we know our schedules won’t allow us to try something new. As you continue to meal plan you will acquire your own list of “Go To Meals” save them whenever is handy for you! I have a Pinterest board of favorites, of course Magnolia Table cookbook and family cookbook I use often.
Planning made simple!
- Use a weekly dry erase calendar, so everyone knows what’s for dinner each day of the week. It also helps you remember if there is anything you need to do the night before, like a marinade or thawing.
- If you have an iPhone, create a group note with your partner. It’s an easy way for each of you to add things to your grocery list or meal ideas as they pop up in your mind. This is a lifesaver for me, I forget everything! Thanks, Mom brain. So, being able to write it all down in one spot makes things so much easier.
- Search your pantry and fridge BEFORE & WHILE creating your list. This allows you to use what you already have and make sure that you are getting everything you need for the week to come. Have you ever swore you had a certain spice to only get home and realize you don’t?! I have, and it’s so frustrating. So, make sure you check those recipes along with what you may or may not already have at home.
Time To Plan!
Once a week, you plan your complete family meals for the week. We try to plan on Saturday and hit the grocery store on Sunday! Plan meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Don’t skip planning breakfast and lunch. Otherwise you will end up running out of food. With two little kids running around having breakfast planned has made our morning routine go so much smoother. We try to make enough each dinner to have leftovers for lunch. Eating leftovers reduces how much food you have to prepare, throwing away extras, and, well, money.
So sit down, think about what your family enjoys and start meal planning. It is so simple once you get the hang of it! You don’t need anything fancy, just a piece of paper, your phone, and a pen. Take inventory of what you already have and get to work! If you want a worksheet to write everything out on, click the download button below!
I would LOVE to hear some of your go to recipes! With a picky toddler, we are always open to new recipes to add to our list!
XO Kate & Elizabeth