I don’t know about you… but I HATE meal planning. I dread it, I dread figuring out the meals, I dread making my grocery list… and I DREAD going grocery shopping. It’s not my favorite. Nope. BUT, it has to be done! Oh, the joys of being a mother! Trial and error has proven that NOT planning causes more money spent, more headaches, and chaos to ensue. So, on that note… meal planning tips!
Pinterest is my best friend. I can find recipes, menu templates, grocery list templates, and all kinds of amazing tips and tricks for your monthly meal plans. I’ve just recently started using THIS template from Passion for Savings. It looks like this:
I don’t use the snack section, we just don’t plan that… I buy what’s on sale that I know Boogie and Bubby will eat and then they choose from those each day. Usually Boogie chooses Bunny Crackers and/or blueberries! I love this template because it has enough space for each meal on each day to write where to find the recipe, what sides I want to include, etc.
As for our grocery list, I use notebook paper or a notepad to jot down what we have in our freezer, fridge and pantry. From there I try to plan our menu around those items first, trying to use up as much as I can before adding meals that we need to buy groceries for. For example, I have several bags of frozen diced bell peppers that need to be used up in the next few weeks in my chest freezer. So I’ve jotted down Breakfast Bowls (I hope to post this recipe at some point for you, but basically it’s home fries, scrambled or fried eggs, a breakfast meat, and peppers and onions all mixed into a bowl…. super unhealthy but very yummy!), Chili and a few other recipes that call for it and other ingredients I have on hand. Once I’ve gone through and used up what I can on that list, I print out THIS template to make my grocery list from Evelyn Kate Designs. (She has a lot of really cool stuff, and this particular template is one of her freebies!) It looks like this:
Of course, you could always just use notebook paper… but what fun is that? The prettier your list is, the better 😉 At least it makes it a little bit more fun, right? So yea, I use that or if I don’t feel like printing it out I just jot down what groceries we need…. and I’m a little bit particular about grouping like foods together. Produce first, then meats, then frozen, then dairy, etc etc.
We do try to coupon, but I just haven’t found many good deals on the foods we like to eat. Most of the coupons you get for food are for processed, packaged foods… we really do try to get fresh, organic, whole foods. Occasionally I’ll find coupons for salad mixes, fruits, etc. I will say you can get some great deals on toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, shampoos, soaps, etc… most of the time I get them for .25/each or less, but usually FREE! I’m really not a fan of couponing though… it’s so time consuming!
Anyways, I also like to have a list on the door of my cupboard to jot down pantry items that we consistently use, like baking goods (flour, sugar, cocoa powder, etc), condiments (though I’m contemplating making our own from scratch…), seasonings, etc. I printed THIS template from Pinch a Little Save-A-Lot and laminated it. I use a dry erase marker on it so we can just wipe it clean after our shopping trip! I just peek in that cupboard when I make my grocery list, jot those items down we need or are low on, then wipe it clean to start anew! That freebie looks like this:
What tips and tricks do you have to make your meal planning quick and painless? It takes me a couple of hours to really get everything together and organized… but like I said, I’m just particular about how I have everything! I’m still not done with this month’s plan!