Meal planning is such a lifesaver in our house. Our weeks tend to be super busy most of the time and if I don't actually set aside time that I'm planning and thinking about the meals I want to make for the week, it completely falls through the cracks. It also saves us from going out which we would both prefer not to do as much during the week. I tend to do my meal planning on Sundays so I can go grocery shopping and have a plan before the work week starts. It helps take one thing off my mind and get me organized before the craziness ensues.
I've recently realized that there are a lot of people out there that don't meal plan because they simply don't know how or don't know the real benefits. SO, I have put together my reasons for meal planning as well as some simple "how tos." There is even a free printable at the end of the post!
WHY MEAL PLANNING IS AWESOME
It saves you time during the week. As I mentioned above, our weeks can get pretty hectic. The last thing I want to do at 5pm after a long day of work is try and figure out what I'm going to cook or what the plan is for dinner. If I have my meal planning chart out, all I have to do is look and see and start cooking. It tends to save us from having the "what do you want to do for dinner" conversation which is a huge plus.
It can save you money. This is a biggie and one of the main reasons I meal plan. When I sit down to plan my meals, I try and come up with recipes that have overlapping ingredients so that I can use up the produce, etc. that I buy. For example, if I have cilantro in one recipe, I try and find another one with cilantro so I'm not buying a bunch of cilantro just for one recipe. We also tend to have leftovers after dinner which is great for my husband's lunches at work.
HOW TO MEAL PLAN
There are tons of charts and blogs out there about meal planning, but there has never really been a meal planning chart that fits my needs, so I decided to create one of my own! Below is a step-by-step of how I like to use my meal planning chart to make it an easy process.
Start with one recipe. I usually like to find one recipe that I want to cook that week and go from there. Let's say I choose to make chicken with quinoa and roasted veggies one night. I write it down in the dinner slot and go to the next step.
Write down all ingredients for the recipe. After I've picked my recipe, I like to write down the ingredients so I can choose other recipes to cook that have overlapping ingredients. So with my chicken, quinoa and veggies, I usually buy a package of four chicken breasts, so I know I will want to choose another recipe that week that has chicken. Writing down all the ingredients also helps me get organized. I try and group ingredients for meals together when I get home from the store so when I'm cooking I can just grab them and get started.
Create a shopping list. Once all of my ingredients are listed, I can start creating my shopping list, writing down the items that I need. I like to organize my list by categories in the grocery store so I can know exactly what I'm getting from each section when I go. This tends to save time in the grocery store which is a major bonus in my book (can I get an AMEN?!).
Take note of what recipes worked. I always like to take note of the recipes that we really liked so I can file them away for a later date. This helps narrow the search for good recipes and makes it easier to think of recipes when doing my planning.
Now you are ready to get to meal planning! I would love to hear how you plan and prepare for your week! What are things that have worked for you and things you like to implement into your routine? Hopefully some of these tips were helpful and things you can start utilizing to make life a little simpler.