When I started this blog I found that all of the blogger vets I encountered meal planned. Some once a month, some once a week, some daily but with a slew of supplies always on hand. I gave it a try until I found what worked for me.
For those of you who haven't started meal planning....it will change your attitude about cooking. Whether you work in or outside the home, it makes cooking less stressful.
Here is my Meal Planning Plan. I have borrowed several ideas from lots of other Meal Planning Moms. I even visit a site regularly called MealPlanningMommies. Check them out!
I think what kept me from getting overwhelmed was starting slowly. Try one week.
Here are some easy steps to becoming a Meal Planner (however you do it!)
Heather over at WantingWhatYouHave suggested making a Dinner List.
She inspires me daily! She always has ingredients on hand to make meals on her list. Her family saves money buy eating meals using what they already have on hand, instead of running to the store for things they really don't need. Heather has taught me a lot about saving money on groceries!
To make your dinner list, simply sit down and make a list of all the meals you and your family really enjoy or eat frequently. I keep this in a Word document so I can add to it when we find a new recipe we really loved.
Print yourself up an empty calender for the month. Look at your dinner list and fill in some of your favorites for the week. Don't forget to leave a day for leftovers or eating out if you do so.
Make a shopping list from your weeks planned meals. This keeps you from buying stuff you don't really need and aren't going to be using. We have saved so much money just by using lists! Don't forget to check out what is on sale at the store that you do use, even if its not on the meal plan this week. (example: you find a great deal on chicken...buy some on sale, freeze it, and plan it into next week's meal plan
Check out Meal Plan the night before or that morning, thaw or prep ingredients during the day, and your cooking routine goes more quickly in the evening.
Freeze meals for later use. If I am making a batch of spagetti sauce anyway...I make it a double or freeze the leftovers. This makes nights when you have a PTO meeting, bible studies, etc. so much easier. Examples of batches I freeze include spagetti, taco soup, chicken and dumplings, casseroles, pasta dishes, and much much more.
Refer back to your meal plan when the week is over. When starting your next week's meal plan, don't forget to include meals that you didn't end up using. This will save you money on your next trip to the store.
Once you have tried once a week meal planning for a while, decide if its right for you. I like to do mine every two weeks. I find that the less I am in Walmart....the less I spend! I also have a 10 month old so longer shopping trips just don't end well.
I hope this helps to get you started. Give it a try if you haven't already. Please leave a comment and let me know how you meal plan or how it goes once you get started.