Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My Meal Planning Method

There is more than one way to skin a cat, as they say.  There are countless ways to meal plan.  I wanted to share my method of late that has proved successful for me.  It requires a chunk of time and planning at the beginning of the two weeks, but it saves me a great deal of stress, money, and time in last-minute trips to the supermarket to pick up needed ingredients.

Step One:  List meals you want to make.  I usually peruse blogs and my recipe books to come up with a good mix of old favorites as well as new recipes to motivate me to cook.

Step Two:  Make list of items to pick up at the store.  I use a cheap $1 magnetic list on my fridge and divide it into four sections:  produce, grocery, fridge/frozen, and other.  I love the magnetic list, because when I realize I need something as I am cooking, I can easily and quickly add it.

Step Three:  Plug meals into calendar.  I like to take a look at my calendar and schedule in meals that fit my time constraints.  I allow days with no meal plan for left-overs. I try to plan for sides as well as main dish.

Step Four:  Gather recipes. If I have printed versions of the recipes, I clip them to my fridge for easy access.

I have found that if I only go to the store once a week that it is much easier to stay within my budget. I have to admit that I am not perfect at this, and there are some weeks that we are lucky to have mac n' cheese from a box on the table.  As you can clearly see from my picture, I failed to meal-plan for the first week of July (it was my daughter's birthday that week and that is what I get for signing up to throw her a friend party). But when I DO make the effort to plan, my life is much easier and things go more smoothly in the long run.  

I learned how to meal plan from my incredible Mom. I'm sure that she is much better at it than me, as are many of you, so I would love to learn from you.  What tips do you have in meal-planning?  What works for your family?

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