Meal Planning Basics
Meal planning is one of those things that I'm so glad I have done when I take some time to do it, but doesn't always take priority. Some weeks when I'm not feeling motivated, I don't get around to planning anything. When that happens I'll typically end up eating eggs and frozen veggies, or going out to eat. That becomes both unsatisfying and expensive.
I know we're all busy with our own stuff throughout the week, whether its work, school or taking care of kids-we're all pressed for time to make something nutritious and tasty. Meal planning is an awesome way to save money and take a lot of the guess work out of the age old question "what's for dinner?" It does take some time to do, but definitely pays off in the long run.
I came up with a few tips that have worked for me as I've tried to get into the habit of meal planning regularly. Hopefully they'll be helpful for you too! I also made my own meal planner to print off and write on to help me stay organized. Feel free to download and use it to get your meal planning going!
Some MP Basics:
1. Use the time you have
It doesn't have to be on the weekends if Saturday and Sunday are busy for you. Find a few hours in your schedule where you'll be able to sit down and come up with some ideas, grocery shop and possibly complete some prep.
2. Know how much you'll need to make
Depending on how much you eat and how many people you're feeding, you'll need a specific amount of food to last you through the week. All recipes are different and you may need to adjust the portions based on your own situation. Once you do this a few times it becomes a lot easier to estimate how much you'll need to make the meals last. It may be a good idea to start with some extra the first few times. You can always freeze what's leftover or use it in another dish.
3. No need to reinvent the wheel
Use ingredients that you already have. You don't need to totally restock your kitchen from scratch. Start with meals and ingredients that you already have on hand. If you have a staple recipe that you make and enjoy regularly, continue to use it!
4. Utilize coupons and sales
Give your favorite grocery store's ads a quick browse to see what's on sale that week. If you see an ingredient that's on sale and looks interesting, try to incorporate it into a few of your meals.
5. Plan for leftovers and special occasions
If you have a tried and true recipe, consider doubling it to make it work for another day. You'll save a lot of time and some extra $$$ when you plan for 2-3 days of leftovers. Also, give yourself some wiggle room to enjoy a night out. I would be very sad if I never went out to eat at some of my favorite restaurants again! So I like to incorporate eating out into the plan on certain weeks.
6. Try something new
Meal planning can get dull and boring just like eggs and frozen veggies. Keep things interesting by trying a new recipe or ingredient. Don't spend hours scrolling through Pinterest for the perfect entree, but if something catches your eye, give it a go! You can also adjust an old recipe by changing a few of the ingredients to give it new life. It's the perfect time to be creative.
Download my free meal planning printable!