For the *longest* time,I have struggled with meal planning (or lack thereof) and the amount of money spent at the grocery store, ordering out and going out to eat. But, my biggest mistake was going to the grocery store without a plan or while hungry, without knowing what I already had in my house. I would get home and realize I didn’t have that can of black beans that I thought I did, or realize I already had two unopened packages of tortillas. *face palm*
I was scrolling Instagram the other day – and I really wish I could remember who’s account I stumbled on, but I can’t :/ – and I had a light-bulb moment. It was the best meal-planning idea I had seen so far!! So, I decided to sit down and tackle it and then share it here! I hope it helps you as well!
I created four weekly meal plans, complete with breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks and items for Gracie. Each week, I’ll choose a menu and that’s our meal plan for the week. From the meal plan, all I need to do is create a shopping list based on the menu and the items that I already have in the house, and go to the store.
I first started by making three lists: a list of 30 of our favorite meals, pantry staples we always need/use and which items I prefer to buy from which store. I usually shop at Trader Joe’s and Market Basket/Stop’n’Shop.
Next, I searched Pinterest and I found this printable weekly menu/shopping list. There are dozens to choose from, but this is just the one that I used! I like pretty fonts 🙂
Then, I looked at that week, and picked one meal that we would eat out or order out. Looking at my list of 30 meals, I decided that I wanted 4-5 poultry meals and 2 beef meals each week. I mixed it up so we weren’t eating all Mexican one week and all Italian the next 🙂 I filled all the dinners in first and then moved on to lunches. Keith’s company provides breakfast and lunch for him each day, so I just had to worry about Gracie and I during the week, and two weekend days. Because Keith doesn’t usually get home until 7-7:15, and Gracie eats dinner around 5-5:30, her dinner is not always the same as ours, so I made sure to include her dinners as well.
I took all my meals that are on Pinterest and created a new board so that I can easily find them when I’m making dinner – link to that board is here.
Lastly, I made the grocery list based on what we needed to make the meals for that week! (This was the most time consuming part of this project, but I was in the home stretch!!) I also created a list of those staples we always randomly need (seltzer water, paper towels, snacks, dog treats, etc). Each Sunday, I’ll look at the list and write out everything that we are out of or low on. I’m hoping to cut down to two weekly trips to the store. Gracie goes through milk and fresh fruits in a matter of days, so I’ll do one big trip and then a quick one mid-week.
My plan is to change the weekly menus up seasonally. We have staple meals that we always have, but for example, in the winter we eat a lot more soups and comfort-food casseroles. In the warmer months, I’ll add more salads and grilled items.
I worked on this project off and on all weekend, but I would say it probably took me about 3-4 hours total. Yes, it was time consuming, but I think it’s going to save me so much time and money in the coming months!!
I also printed out this weekly calendar to hang on our fridge and make notes about our week. For example, tomorrow we are going to a Valentine’s party and am bringing a fruit snack, and we are celebrating my father-in-law’s birthday on Saturday and need to pick up a cake. The nice thing about this calendar is that I can make any modifications to my meal plan for the week based on our schedule. Because Tuesday is Valentine’s Day, I’m switching up our dinner and then Saturday, we have a birthday party. So for those two nights, I’ll omit the ingredients for those meals.
Since we were snowed in for most of the weekend (and still are!!) this was the perfect weekend to tackle this project!
Do you meal plan? Do you have any other tips? I would love to hear them!
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