- Meal Planning 101: Getting Started
- Meal Planning for Maximum Grocery Store Savings
- Meal Planning by Theme
- Monthly Meal Planning
Meal Planning 101: Getting Started
Is meal planning something you wish you did, but you don't know
where to begin? Like all things, making small adjustments can
lead to big change. Instead of finding seven new recipes the
first week of meal planning, aim to plan just two meals.
Here is a step-by-step tutorial from
Life as Mom
to get started:
- Get a piece of paper and pen,
- Consult your calendar to fill in events that affect meal times,
- Take inventory of what you have in your freezer, pantry, and refrigerator,
- Look to grocery ads for inspiration,
- Browse recipe resources or find family favorites,
- Write down on your calendar the two meals you want for the week,
- Create a grocery list with the ingredients you will need,
- Go to the grocery store.
Remember to be flexible. If for some reason you aren't able to
put the right meal on the table on the right day, don't
consider it a failure. Sometimes the best-laid plans aren't
executed. Dust yourself off and try again.
Meal Planning for Maximum Grocery Store Savings
Meal planning saves you money, even if you don't use circulars.
You can use these ideas to save even more.
When you go to the grocery store armed with a
grocery list and a plan, you avoid buying things
you don't need at the grocery store. This is the
basic way to save money through meal planning.
Plan using the circular in your store. You can find
grocery store circulars in the mail and many
grocery stores post the circular online. Find out
what your family likes to eat and match the sale
items to your favorite recipes. If your family is
tired of your "standards," use this opportunity to
search for different recipes. You don't want to
experiment with a new meal when you pay full price.
Create a grocery list organized by department. This
will get you in and out of the grocery store
quickly. Studies show that you spend $1 for every
additional minute over 30 minutes you stay in the
store. An organized grocery list will help you
Match the sale items in the weekly circular with
coupons. The universe of coupons is large, but you
can look for help online. The best resources are
Deal Seeking Mom,
and Couponing 101.
These blogs have sections for selected grocery
stores where they combine the sales with the
Meal Planning By Theme
Planning by theme is a great way to narrow down recipe
decisions and make planning easier. The drawback is it's more
difficult to work from the grocery circulars and doesn't allow
Themes could not only be cuisine type, but also cooking method.
Here's an example:
- Day 1: Noodles
- Day 2: Casserole
- Day 3: Mexican
- Day 4: Entrée Salad
- Day 5: Pizza
- Day 6: Grilling
- Day 7: Crockpot
Monthly Meal Planning
If you want to organize even further, you can consider meal
planning once a month. The expert on this is
Once A Month Mom.
She takes one day at the beginning of the month to make 3-4
breakfast items, 4 lunch items, and 8 dinner items resulting in
enough leftovers to feed the family throughout the entire
month. She has 10 main tips
for successfully planning once a month.
- How much do you need?
- How many do you need to feed?
- Consult your calendar -- meals to cook per week, go-out to eat, etc.
- Time in kitchen -- how many hours do you want to spend cooking?
Research Sale Items
Plan Your Recipes
- Keep your options open
- Seasonal Items
- Family Recipes
- Recipe Forums
- Organize into meal time categories
- Label your recipes by meal time category
Eliminate recipes that are too heavy on ingredients,
too heavy on appliances, too heavy on certain tasks,
or too many like ingredients
- Print the recipe and go off what the recipe says it cooks for (e.g.: 4 people)
Assess the serving amounts of each recipe (you need
to multiply the recipe by the number of days you
plan to eat it again later -- example: If you're a
family of 4 and you want to eat it for 4 days
throughout the month, alter the recipe to feed 16
- Decide on the container
- Do the math (calculate the new servings per recipe)
Create a Grocery List
- Print individual copies of each recipe
- Print a master grocery list
- List each ingredient for each recipe
- Separate by meat product (chicken, beef, pork, etc), baking, and slow cooker recipes
Substitutions or Equivalents
- Which resources will I need for this recipe?
- Recheck each recipe to confirm measurements and ingredients
- Recipe title