November 2, 2016

Easy Tips for Meal Planning

I started meal planning way before I even moved out of my parents house. I always have loved keeping organized and cooking, so when my parents would do their big grocery trip once a week so I'd spend hours searching for coupons and choosing meal ideas to present to them. Now 5 years later I live on my own, but still continue to meal plan for my little family of two.  The average couple spends around $550 a month on food. Meal planning is perfect for everyone whether you're a big family of 6 likes we were growing up or for someone living alone. It saves you money, time, and reduces the stress of trying to scramble a meal together each night. So here is my process and a few tips on incorporating meal planning into your life.

Step 1: Pick Your Grocery Day
I do my grocery shopping mainly primarily  ever 2 weeks. This could be different for everyone. Just do what works best whether that's once a week or once a month. One key thing though is to make sure you have a dedicated block of time for your trip. Grocery day is better when you're not in a rush.

Step 2: Choose Your Meals
Grab a sheet of paper, number the side so you have a spot for each nights dinner and a few spots for lunch & breakfast. I personally use Pinterest for practically all my meal ideas. It's as simple as typing "dinner ideas" and you have tons of yummy recipes to choose from. For my list I like a balance of quick and easy meals, a few that require a bit more effort, and I always leave one spot open for takeout. 

Step 3: Create a Shopping List
Next I go through each recipe and write down the ingredients needed. I also add key staples such as bread, eggs, and milk. You ll know what your family needs, especially after you've done it a few times
At this point its a breeze.

Step 4: Raid Your Pantry
Taking the list you just made, go through your pantry and cross off anything you already have.  This could also be a time to add things you're noticing you need to pick up too. This helps a ton because you'll insure you only buying what you need rather than bringing home ANOTHER can of black beans(seriously i always buy them when i have like 5 in my cabinet. I need to chill)
Step 5: Shop Shop Shop
You've made it! You're all planned out and ready to head to the store with your grocery list in hand. Remember to stick to your list, don't shop on an empty stomach and you'll make it out without buying what you don't need. Although let's be honest, oreos somehow always end up in my cart, but I promise I stop there!  

Its so simple, but so effective as well! It honestly does  tons of time to do. When you're already browsing pinterest pin a few recipes for next weeks list, create an ongoing list of items as you run out, and then when you sit down to meal plan it'll all just fall together.  I would say in total it takes me like an hour from start to finish, minus the actual shopping trip.

By doing this Caleb and I save around $150 a month. That adds up to 1800 a year! I promise you'll still get to buy meals you love while also cutting costs. Try it for a week and tell me of it worked for you! If you'd like to hear more posts like this let me know! I'd love to share.

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