Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Meal Planning

Do you find yourself approaching dinner with panic? You rummage through the fridge and cabinets in hopes to find something quick to make. Or your in the middle of making dinner and realize you don't have the ingredients to make what you planned. I’ve been there too many times to count and I dislike the feeling. I usually end up throwing something together that isn’t appealing or the least bit nutritious. One of the best tips I could give a mother who works outside the home is to meal plan, it is a good idea for anyone really.

I didn’t meal plan for many years. My mother didn't meal plan therefore it wasn't something I even knew about. When going to the grocery store I threw things in the cart that "looked good". I ended up spending way more than necessary on items that I couldn’t even make a balanced meal with. Now when I go with a plan, I spend less and have more with a BIG smile. This is one of our budget eaters (it also includes all household products).

There are many ways to meal plan and I have adapted mine several times. Please take the information I give you and make it your own. I don’t have any fancy shopping lists or meal calendars, nor do I spend a ton of time doing this task (it takes about 20 minutes).

Let's get started

-I clean out my refrigerator/freezer (Easy tip 1: keep the fridge clean) and make note of what I still have on hand (meat, veggies, etc.)

-From there, I sit down with the sale papers and my running list that I keep (Easy tip 2: Write down items as you start to run low). Look through the paper and see what's on sale. Remember just because it’s cheap, if your family won’t eat it, you are wasting money.

-Now that I have a list of items I can plan start planning. By looking at the sale list and knowing what meals my family likes, I form a menu. Items may need to be added depending on the meals I want to make. For breakfast I keep oatmeal, granola bars, waffles and pancakes on hand. No one is home for lunch. I plan 6 meals for dinner and we either have leftovers on the 7th day or eat with friends/family. When doing this I keep in mind how much time I have to cook. Plan simple things like salad with grilled chicken on nights that are going to be rushed (Easy tip 3: think ahead = less stress)- Save the more time consuming meals for another day. Some of my friends like to theme their meals for each night of the week. My husband is not a planning kind of guy so this doesn’t work for us although I think it would be fun.

-After I have finished, I write the meals on the bottom of our family calendar, the one with all of our appointments, events, etc. By having everything in the same place there isn't any excuses for not knowing what is going on or what is for dinner. I use a free printable calendar that I found online. I keep ours right above our command station which has pens, paper, church directory/phone book, extra calendars, etc.  This is where I also keep the cook books, recipes we want to try, my running list. (Easy tip 4: keep things together).

-When heading to the store I take my list with me, sometimes taped to my forehead (this is just a reminder for those who need it :). Most of the time I stick to the list but I hardly feel bad if I stray a bit. If an item that I use often is on sale then I might buy extra so I will have it "in stock" for those times my husband wants something "unplanned" (Easy tip 5: be flexible).

Easy tip 1: keep the fridge clean
Easy tip 2: write down items as you start to run low
Easy tip 3: think ahead = less stress
Easy tip 4: keep things together
 Easy tip 5: be flexible

There you have it! It took much longer to think and type the process than it does to actually do my meal planning. Feel free to ask me questions or better yet tell me how do you meal plan?

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts with Thumbnails