Organizing and planning come naturally to me. I use these skills to our advantage and have developed a foolproof meal planning strategy that has been working so incredibly well for our family. Even if you are not a type A mama like me, this can easily work for you! If you are ready to take control of this aspect of your life to save time and money, and lose all the stress out of planning meals, read below!
Step 1- Make a List
Get out your trusty pen and paper or start a word document. (The word doc is ideal so you can keep it neat, clean, and make easy updates.) Next, list out as many meals as you can off the top of your head that you know how to make and you know your family will eat. Do NOT go to Pinterest or your cookbook stash and choose a bunch of meals you’ve never made before, or you will not succeed at this. Do basic meals you know and love for now. Once you have this habit developed, you can add in new meals then. When I first started I only had a few, but now I’ve worked my way up to around 50 different meals.
Here are a few sample meals I have listed; I have it organized by main course type.
Seafood, Pork, Vegetarian
|Chicken enchiladas, rice, beans
|Crockpot pot roast with carrots, onions and red potatoes
|Black bean burgers, veggie, tots
|Crockpot BBQ chicken sandwiches, tots and veggie.
|Spaghetti with meatballs, salad
|Pork loin, baked potato, veggie
|Chicken, broccoli and rice casserole
|Meatball subs, carrots and hummus, cottage cheese
|Tuna noodle casserole, veggie, cottage cheese
Step 2- Make a Plan
Schedule a time every single week to sit down and meal plan. Pull up your meal list and select your meals for the week. I do this every Friday. We cook 3x a week and double up and eat leftovers the next night. For that last supper we either eat out or have a super easy option like frozen pizza and salad or grilled cheese and canned soup.
Here is a sample week for us.
|Chicken wraps, veggie/fruit
|Tatertot casserole, veggie/fruit
|Brats, beans, veggie/fruit
Frozen Pizza & salad
Step 3 (You are almost done!) – Place your order
No more shopping in store! I go online and place my order for groceries. If you’re local, Hy-Vee and Wal-Mart have great online ordering. Be sure to check with your local grocers–some have an app which is so convenient and some even offer free delivery! I love using the app to place and update my order, and I schedule my pick up for the weekend when I will be out and about anyway.
Once I am logged on, I look at my meal list for the week and add all my meal ingredients. Then I go to my favorites feature to easily add in my household staples: milk, eggs, bread, fruits, vegetables. Next I add in our breakfast, lunch, and snack items. We eat the same things every week so this is easy–things like pancake mix, granola bars, yogurt, sandwich meat, salads, and soups. Finally, I throw in whatever random needs we have, like light bulbs, toilet paper, diapers.
This is the best money saving tip I have because this saves me HUNDREDS of dollars. These items may cost a little more from a traditional grocery store, but if I were to make a second trip to Target, I would easily drop $100 and over an hour of my time.
Once I complete my order, I add my meals to my calendar so I don’t forget what we’re having the following week. This avoids the last minute panic of figuring out what we are having for supper that night. This also helps to be sure the type of meal you are making fits with the day you have. You don’t want to have an elaborate meal scheduled on a night with a kid activity or errands to run after work. On those nights we do the super easy meal or utilize the amazing instantpot or crockpot.
That’s it! Super easy, right? Get to it and share your favorite meal planning tips below!