So as you can imagine, my family of six eats A LOT! I am worried about having 4 teen boys, they are going to eat me out of house and home! haha! I have mastered the art of meal planning. It saved me hundreds of dollars on my grocery bill, I kid you not! Try it for a week or two and see for yourself.
First, I will start off by telling you how I used to shop. I wondered around aimlessly up and down the aisles at the store looking for something good to eat. Then, run around trying to collect all the ingredients I needed... Once I got home and unloaded mass amounts of groceries and put everything away. I would soon realize I forgot an ingredient or cant remember what meals I can make with what I got. Then, I'd call for a pizza! LOL! It was horrible!
To begin meal planning, I suggest a few things:
a wallet size calendar that allows you to write on each day.
recipe cards (index cards will do)
Magnetic pad of paper for your fridge
You dont NEED all of this. A regular calendar and a few sheets of paper will be just fine. I found all of these items in the dollar section at Target.
First you are going to write down all the meals that you know how to make on a sheet of paper. If you are an awesome cook, you can narrow it down to what you eat most often. I separated the list into breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack categories. Put this away for safe keeping.
Take each meal from the list and write one per recipe card. Write down ALL the ingredients you need to create that meal. From oil, salt and pepper to the sides you eat with it! This may take a while but, I promise it is worth it :)
Now go to the calendar and write down one meal per day for the next 7 days. You can write down 3 meals a day if you wish but, I started slow. Feel free to dive right in! If you want to go grocery shopping every 2 weeks, write down the meals for the next 14 days. Refer back to your master list of meals when you need to change it up.
Pick a day that you are going to go shopping and keep it! Write it down on the calendar so you will remember. Now, grab that magnetic note pad and a pencil. Get the recipe cards for the meals you have listed on your calendar, and go through your pantries. If you are missing an ingredient, jot that down on your list. Make sure you take the time to throw out anything that is expired to make room for your new groceries. Toss out any science projects you have growing eyeballs in the back of the fridge, and inspect your veggies. LOL!
After I make my list, I rewrite it in the order things are in my store. For instance, I know I always go to the produce aisle first so, I list all the produce at the top of my list. Then, the bread and snack aisle etc.. I stick to one store so, I am not spending an hour trying to locate their products.
The wallet size calendar goes in my purse, the magnetic pad goes on my fridge with a pencil in a kitchen drawer, and the recipe cards are with my spices.
It sounds like a lot! You will get into your own groove and LOVE IT! This has helped me know what I am going to cook and not stand infront of the fridge with the door wide open hoping something will pop out at me! I also take food out of the freezer in advance so I am not defrosting meat when I should be eating it. haha! I also dont throw out food anymore. I buy what we are going to eat and nothing goes to waste :) I cant tell you how many heads of wilted lettuce, brown bananas, and rotten tomatoes I have wasted money on. For my family of 6 I can get away with spending about $65 a week on groceries!
I will add another blog telling you about my couponing and money saving tips. I used to spend at least $150 a week for us! Good luck and happy meal planning!