Well, today is the day that I tell you how I go about planning my weekly meals and grocery shopping lists.
It is quite simple, but I get a lot of questions about it so I figured why not deliver with my own version of Meal Planning 101...
Why Do I Meal Plan?
Simply put, I plan all of my meals on a weekly basis to save money and make meal prep as simple and quick as possible. Due to the fact that I do not get home from work until after 6pm, have a 9 week old baby girl to cater to, and a hungry husband that wants dinner ASAP, time is limited to actually brainstorm and whip up delicious meals on a daily basis.
By planning my meals ahead, and doing some basic food prep over the weekend, I save a heck of a lot of time and money (by only buying the ingredients necessary and not wasting too much food). For me, meal planning is a WIN, WIN, WIN!
Step 1: Find Inspiration
First and foremost I am known for saving and bookmarking all recipes and meal ideas that I stumble across throughout the week. Whether on the internet, the Food Network, other food blogs, or in magazines, I try to take note of any recipe or meal inspiration that I can find. This way, when it comes to selecting meals for the coming week I have a bunch of ideas to browse.
Second, I always browse my pantry, cabinets, fridge, and freezer when meal planning so I can make sure I use up any and all ingredients I have on hand before I spend more money at the grocery store.
I also evaluate my coupon stash and grocery store weekly sales fliers (I actually check numerous store fliers and chose which store to shop at based on their weekly sale prices; I pretty much shop at a different grocery store each week depending on sale prices) to see what is on sale. I try to be as financially savvy as possible when picking my breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack items for the week.
Lastly, I make note of any foods and meals that the Hubs or I may be craving and try to stick a few of our wants into the upcoming week's grocery budget.
Step 2: Write Down The Upcoming Week's Meal Plan
As you can see from Friday's post, I physically write down the meals I plan on making and eating each day so that I do not forget and can be as organized as possible (doing this also mitigates the Hubs daily question of what I am making for dinner that night).
Once I know what we will be eating, I print, write, and organize any recipes that will be used in the coming week so that they are easy to access when the time comes.
Step 3: Make A Grocery Shopping List and Go Shopping
After deciding on all meals and snacks for the week, I write down and catergorize any and all ingredients and food items that need to be bought: Produce, Meat, Breads/Grains, Frozen Foods, Miscellaneous. By doing this I can easily make my way through the grocery store one department at a time and make sure I do not forget anything while shopping.
I also make sure I have all applicable coupons ready to go at this point as well.
Step 4: Food Prep
Note: check back later this week for a post on prepping food and your meals ahead of time!
Upon getting home from the grocery store, I quickly put away all of my groceries and start prepping some basic foods for the week (i.e. brown rice, quinoa, chopped veggies and fruits, etc.) which helps to cut back on the time it takes to cook each meal.
Step 5: Stick With Your Meal Plan!
It is super important that you stick to your meal plan 90% of the time. Of course things come up and plans change, but to ensure that you effectivly limit waste its important you try to stick to the plan to make all the time you spent planning worth it!
Ultimatly everyone has a different style when planning their meals and shopping for groceries. Over the past few years, I have found that this style of meal planning works best for us.
Meal planning is all about organization and personal preference!
How Do You Typically Plan Your Meals For The Coming Week?