Planning meals for my family can be so hard! I always have to think about what we are doing that week, what they like to eat, what we have had recently, how much money we have left in our grocery budget..it is just so much work! I am going to share some tips with you on how we make our meal planning easier and hopefully they will help you too!
Have a grocery list on your fridge or pantry.
We have a magnetic pad of paper always hanging on our fridge that we add to as we run out of things. This helps us not to forget any items that we need. Once we make our menu for the next trip, we will add items to the list in the order of how you see them at the grocery store to hopefully help each shopping trip run smoothly!
Look at your grocery budget (keep track of what you spend!)
We have a monthly budget for groceries and we try very hard to keep to it! Usually during the first grocery trip, we will not really look at it, but for the next one(s) we will! It important to know how much I have left so I know if we need to have more simple and cheaper meals, where we already have the ingredients, or if we have enough left to buy the steak, brats, or mini ice creams that I love etc.
Start a list of meal ideas as they pop in your head.
We also have been making a list of meal ideas on a sticky note the week leading up to a grocery trip. This helps us know what we need to get, as well as what we need to look for to see what we have, and also see how much of one item we will need.
Plan meals for a week or two at a time.
When we plan for meals we used to plan for 7 meals, because we would go grocery shopping each week. I would write down each meal on our white board on our fridge so we knew what we were having each night. Now, we try to plan for 2 weeks at a time, since we are trying to limit our trips to the grocery store. This can be harder when trying to think of meals, but it also nice to know all the meals are planned and we have ingredients for 2 weeks! There are people I have heard of that plan their meals monthly or have a monthly rotation of meals, maybe one day we will do that!
Schedule in 1-2 eat outs.
We will also try to schedule in 1 or 2 times we eat out every couple of weeks. We will look at our budget for the rest of the month for groceries as well as for restaurants and see what we have money left for. Sometimes, we will still plan for those meals at home and then “save” them when we don’t make them for the next week.
Look at items in storage to see what meals you can make.
This is one thing we do when we are sitting down to work on the grocery list and maybe already have 2 or 3 meal ideas. My husband will usually write down items we need and I will look through the cupboards to see what else we have or need to get. I also will usually go to the deep freeze and look to see how much meat we have and see if we have to get any more.
Look at your master list of recipes.
We have a written list of recipes, some printed recipes, as well as a board on Pinterest with some of our favorite recipes that we will look at for inspiration. My goal is to make a binder or document on my computer where all of our favorites are together in one place. A project for another time!
Think of meals you can reuse ingredients.
Once we have a handful of meals, we will try to use some of the ingredients for more than one meal. One example is whenever we have tacos and buy all the items we use for those; sour cream, cheese, black olives, beans, rice etc. we always plan to have nachos or a taco bowl the next day. This helps us to use up all the ingredients. Another example is when we buy a bag of potatoes we think of having baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, or another recipe that uses potatoes like scalloped potatoes and ham.
I hope that some of these tips will help you plan for your next grocery trip! We can all use some help making life a little easier from time to time! Let me know which ones you use in the comments! Remember, we got this!
Simply by Christine