The great big “what’s for dinner?” question can be a daunting one when you face it EVERY SINGLE DAY. So, help yourself out and make your life easier with meal planning! I plan meals for my family for a few different reasons:
- I’m a planner and plan pretty much everything.
- It makes your life easier during the week and it helps to cut down on your grocery bill.
Who enjoys walking in the door 30 minutes before dinnertime not having a clue what to cook for dinner? NOBODY! Meal planning to the rescue! Here is the method to my madness when it comes to meal planning! You can even head on over to the Resource Library now to print off this FREE Meal Planner!
Start Your Ingredients List and Save Money!
First, look at sale items and coupons to start a list of ingredients that you could use and save money while using. Then, think about the fruits and veggies that are in season (because they’re always cheaper when in season) OR maybe you have a beautiful garden outside, in which case think of what all you have available to you there. Use this list of ingredients as the starter for your meal ideas!
Meal planning in itself will definitely save you money because you will only buy what you need for each meal and will definitely see a decrease in your grocery bill when doing so. If you can also use other money-saving techniques on top of that, you’ll be amazed at the amount of money you can save on groceries!
Meal List and Recipes
Now it’s time to take that awesome list of ingredients and decide what the heck you can make with them! You’ll first want to decide how many meals you’ll be planning for, thinking about whether you’re planning for one week or two, all meals or just main dinner courses, etc. How many meals you want to plan for is completely up to you and what works best for you. P.S. You can find a meal planner for each of these methods in the Resource Library!
Some people like to plan for all meals and all snacks for a month at a time, where others plan for main dinner courses for a week. Do what works best for you and your family! Browse through some recipes on Pinterest and get your meal list together and ready to put on your meal planner. Follow me on Pinterest for some AMAZING recipes that I have saved 🙂!
When starting to plan meals for specific days, keep a few things in mind:
- Will the recipe you’ve chosen allow for any leftovers?
- Do you already have or will you prep any freezer meals?
- What does the rest of that day look like for you? How busy is that day?
When meal planning, consider the leftovers that may be produced from your chosen recipes. We all know that leftovers aren’t any good after they’ve been sitting in the fridge for too long, but nobody wants to eat the same exact meal day after day. Be efficient with your planning so food doesn’t go to waste but also mix it up a bit!
A great example of this is leftover chicken. Let’s say Monday night I make roasted chicken with mashed potatoes and veggies. After dinner, I shred the leftover chicken and store it in the fridge. Then Wednesday or Thursday night I make delicious baked taquitos using that leftover chicken. The chicken doesn’t go bad and taste buds are satisfied with a variety of meals :)! For more ideas and recipes for leftovers, you’ll love this What to do With All the Leftovers post, COMING SOON! Follow me on Facebook and subscribe so you’ll know the minute this post is published. Plus you’ll gain access to the Resource Library and get some extra special goodies 😉!
Another idea for leftovers when it’s not really something you can transform into a different meal, is to freeze your leftovers and have it ready to use at a later time. An example of this that I personally use a lot is meatloaf.
When I make meatloaf, I make meatloaf muffins, instead of one large loaf, by baking the meat mixture in a muffin tin. One pound of meat makes 12 meatloaf muffins, which is enough for dinner and lunch the next day. But, if meat is on sale then I’ll double the recipe,make 24 meatloaf muffins, use half of them for dinner that night, freeze half of them, and have meatloaf ready to heat up for another dinner later that month! You can use this double-the-recipe and freeze-half trick with a lot of different recipes. Get all your work done at one time and end up with two meals for the month! Pretty awesome, right?
Everybody has certain days that always seem to be busier than the rest. On these days, I ALWAYS plan for freezer meals. They’re already prepped and ready to go, and they make life so much easier!
Put It All Together
So, you’ve used coupons and sales ads to come up with your list of ingredients, you’ve decided on the meals you’ll be making with those ingredients while considering leftovers and freezer meals, and now it’s time to plan everything out!
When going through the process of putting your meals on the calendar, check out the length of the prep time and cook time on your chosen recipe and think about what else you’ve got going on that day. If you have a fairly intense recipe that’s going to take an hour to put together, you’re not going to want to worry about getting it made on time on a day when your afternoon is booked with running errands in town and picking kids up from dance practice.
On these super busy afternoons/evenings, I always plan for the quick and simple dinners or a crock-pot dinner that I can throw on in the morning. Intense meals with quite a bit of prep/cook time are planned for less busy days to allow for the lengthy prep time. That’s what works for me, but find what works best for you. If every day is insanely busy, then check out this Freezer Meals for Everyone! Plus Free Printables! to see if that is something that could work for you!
What are some of your favorite meal planning techniques? I would love to hear from you!