I’ve heard from many women who don’t meal plan and think that menu or meal planning just won’t work for their family for one reason or another. If you are this woman, I challenge you to read through this article and keep an open mind. In 99% of family’s, I think meal planning would be very beneficial!
Why I Meal Plan
Before we dive into how I meal plan, I want to share into a little bit about why I meal plan. Yes – meal planning does take time, commitment, and a bit of work – but in the end, the benefits are so worth it!
Meal Planning…Saves Money!
Here is my #1 reason for meal planning, it saves my family money and helps us to stick to our grocery budget. It helps our budget in a couple of ways:
1. It Keeps Me Out of the Stores
When I meal plan, I can do about 2 big grocery shops a month and keeps me out of the stores. When I enter Costco with a strict budget and specific grocery list with items all attached to meals, it helps me to cut out impulse purchases.
I’m focused on my goal the entire time while in the store.
2. It Allows Me to Plan Around Our Grocery Budget
In true Dave Ramsey’s fashion, my husband and I try have strict grocery budget’s each week and plan our meals and eating out to fit within that budget. When I meal plan with our budget in mind, it allows me to space out our grocery money throughout the month. I know what I’m spending at which stores and eliminates that question of “I went to the grocery store, spent all our grocery budget, and still don’t have enough meals for the month. How did this happen?”
Meal Planning…Saves Time!
Initially, meal planning takes a little bit of time to get into the habit of and actually do each time you head out to the grocery store. But in the long run, it saves so much time! It virtually eliminates the “What’s for dinner?” question that pops up around 5 o’clock every day.
Meal planning mentally frees me from having to think about my meals each day and helps to cut down on time searching for meals to make, running to the grocery store for one or two items I forgot, and helps me to be more organized.
Meal Planning….Helps Us to Eat Healthier
Even if meal planning didn’t save me money or time, I would jump into meal planning because it really helps me to feed my family healthier meals. It takes a lot of time and energy to cook 3 meals a day mostly from scratch. We’ve virtually eliminated processed foods from our house and so that means I’m cooking all.the.time!
Meal planning gives me freedom, direction, and a vision for my kitchen so that I can focus on cooking the most nutritious (and yummy) meals for my family. I think my kitchen would be in chaos if I didn’t regularly meal plan.
How to Meal Plan the Easy Way
So are you convinced now that you need to start meal planning? Awesome – let’s jump in and I’ll share how I’ve been meal planning for the last several years.
By the way – you can try out Build a Menu for just $4 for your first month! Use coupon code: SaveMeMoney to try out my very favorite meal planning solution! (I’ve been using Build a Member now for over a year and a half and I am totally in love with it!) Find out more about Build a Menu here.
1) Print Out Meal Planning Sheets
Of course, you can use a regular old notebook to do your meal planning, but I’ve created these free printable meal planning sheets for you to use.
I laminated mine (with my amazing laminator that I got off of Amazon for about $30) so that I could re-use them again and again without having to print it off each time.
Download the Meal Planner and the Shopping List
2) Gather Your Favorite Cookbooks & Recipes
I love cookbooks – seriously, I’m a little bit addicted. So my first step in meal planning is to pull out a few of my favorite cookbooks and find some recipes. Note: When you start filling out your meal plan for the week, make sure you write down which cookbook the recipe came from and the page number. You think you will remember later…but you won’t!
Pinterest is of course my other favorite place to find recipes. So many of our family’s favorite recipes over the last several years have been discovered in Pinterest. You can follow me HERE on Pinterest to see how I use it for my homemaking.
3) Assemble Your Meals & Write Out the Ingredients
Here’s the crucial step – as you start to fill in your meal plan and pick out each meal, pause and write down the ingredients from each meal onto your shopping list.
If you are not sure if you have an ingredient or not, add a little “C” next to the ingredient so you can remember to check on it before you head to the store.
Then before you know it, you’ve created your entire meal plan! Check out my video below to learn even more about how I menu plan!