Meal planning can help you reduce your food budget by avoiding food waste. Also by having ingredients always on hand for meals so you don’t eat out. Meal planning can seem overwhelming at first but once you make it a habit it will be no trouble at all.
The first thing you need to do when starting meal planning is decide how you are going to meal plan.
- How often do you want to shop for groceries?
- Which meals will be planning for, breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner?
- Do you want to just have a number of meals planned or have them planned for set days?
- Where do you want to keep the plan?
For me I grocery shop once a month, so I meal plan once a month. I just plan for dinner and I don’t plan on set days. I keep my plan on my computer while I work on it, once it’s done I put it in my household binder. You may have to try a few things before you find what works best for you.
Once you know how you want to plan, it’s time to get started.
Ten Steps for Meal Planning
- Check sales and coupons. Write down ones you want to take advantage of.
- Check what food you already have on hand. Write down what you want to use.
- Get out your cookbooks, recipe box, and/or get on Pinterest.
- As you decide on meals, write down any ingredients you need.
- Go through your list of food you have on hand, make as many meals out of those ingredients as possible.
- Plan as many meals using coupon and sale products as possible. Also check cash back apps like Ibotta, Skrink, and BerryCart to see what rebates they are offering.
- Fill in with other meals you want to try or your family already loves. Don’t try too many new things each month.
- Print off any coupons you are going to use. Put them with your list and reusable bags.
- Make notes on your shopping list of sale prices and where the items are on sale.
- Stick to your list at the store!
Don’t give up if the first couple of times don’t work as you planned. Make changes until it works for you.
- When using Pinterest for recipes, try organizing your boards like a cookbook with different categories. See my boards for an example.
- Use sticky notes in your cookbooks to mark recipes that you want to try. Use the sticky note for any comments you have on the recipe once you make it.
- Double up some recipes to freeze for later meals. More on this in a later post.
- Have a couple of back up meals on your shopping list in case you can’t find ingredients for a meal you wanted to make.
Do you meal plan? How long do you plan for? Share in the comments below.