Good, Old-Fashioned Meal Planning

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Are you one of those people that dreads figuring out what to come up with for dinner? Or are you a super-planner who always has meals planned out ahead of time? I don’t consider myself a super-planner, and I don’t use one of those fancy meal planning apps or services, but I consider myself pretty good at meal planning! I thought I’d share what I do. One of my motivations for writing about this is because I want to hear how other people do their meal and grocery planning! 🙂

  1. Get a whiteboard to use as the “meal board”.

I have loved having a little white board for my meal planning! It goes on the side of our fridge and it helps me stay organized. It’s nice to be able to have a visual of what meals we have planned for the week. It even allows me to write in meals that I think of that I want to make in the near future and not forget about- I just write it on the board for future reference.

2. Plan out the meals you want to make for the next 7 days.

I find that if I plan 7 meals at the beginning of the week (on Sunday or Monday), I go to the store less often throughout the week! I decide which meals I want to make for the next 7 days, then write those on the whiteboard.

3. Write the ingredients on a shopping list.

This is the part that takes the longest for me. I’m a recipe follower (I don’t just make up my own recipes), so I get out all the recipes for the meals I planned for the next 7 days, then I write all of the ingredients I will need on a shopping list. This part takes so long because I have to check our kitchen to see what ingredients we have and which ones we still need, for the recipes.

I should also mention that I usually make a list of sides and treats I want to make for that week, and write those on the white board as well. So on the shopping list, I have all the ingredients I need for the 7 meals PLUS ingredients for those extra things I want to make.

4. SHOP!

Walmart’s grocery pickup service has changed my life! I love it. I don’t use it every time, but I do love using it when I don’t want to go on a big shopping trip with my kids. But sometimes I actually enjoy doing a longer trip at the store- usually that’s only if I have just one of my kids with me or if I’m with my husband on a date. 🙂 Yes, we like going shopping on our dates……

Thoughts on budgeting…..

My family definitely lives on a budget, so we can’t just spend willy-nilly on groceries. That being said, I don’t like being stingy on groceries, especially since we’re on a tight budget on everything else we spend. We’re trying to stick to a certain number (it’s more like a range) of what we spend on food each month. I try to plan some of our meals to be economical (like dinners with rice- Hawaiian Haystacks are a family fav!) and some of them to be fancier (like nice homemade Asian dishes my husband and I make after our kids are in bed). I feel like that kind of balances it out so that we don’t feel like we’re eating like poor college kids all the time…

And that’s it! Now tell me, what are your secrets to meal planning? More specifically, do you have advice for those of us who are on a budget and still want to feed our families nutritious, hearty meals?

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