Meal planning has hands down been the biggest way to save money in my family (so far). There are many different blogs out there that have many different ways to meal plan. It comes down to 5 very simple steps that anyone can apply to their life.
- Decide how often you want to plan. Some people will plan a week at a time, some a month at a time, and others anywhere in between. Myself personally, I plan every 2 weeks. Generally speaking, this allows me to go to the store once every 2 weeks because the fresh fruits and veggies will last that long before going bad.
- Make a list of meals for that time period. I only meal plan for dinners. Breakfasts are generally the same types of thing (cereal, waffles, pancakes, muffins, oatmeal, toast) and lunches are usually leftovers or sandwiches. For every 2 week plan I will have 12 dinners picked out. This allows for 2 nights to use up leftovers. If there aren’t any leftovers, then we tend to fall back on some meals we always keep things stocked up for like hamburger helper, sloppy joes, grilled cheese and soup, etc. When you list your meals, make sure you include any side dishes. Example: Crockpot beef and broccoli with rice. This way, none of the side dishes get forgotten about and you find you don’t have everything you need to prepare your meal.
- Make a shopping list. Once you have your meal plan written out, go through your fridge, freezer(s), cabinets, and pantries. Look to see what you need to buy and what you already have. Anything you need goes on a list.
- Go shopping. Take the list you made and hit the store. Try to do this without kids or a hungry spouse because you can easily spend more than you were planning on in the first place.
- Stick to the plan. You’ve made your meal plan, shopped for it, now stick to it! The night before take a look at your meal plan and pick something you want to do the next day. Take out anything you need to thaw the night before or that morning and you are all set.
That’s it! 5 simple steps that can be adapted by everyone and applied to your life.