13 April 2022

Meal Planning Made Simple - In Four Easy Steps

When Alex & I first started living together, he was really the one who made all the meals. After all, he was a chef, and me . . . well I was really good at baking. But over time, I started to take a more active role in cooking and yes, I even started to enjoy it. In the beginning, meal planning was definitely not on my radar. Once our little one made his way onto the scene I started diving into meal planning because sticking to a budget became a bigger priority. And let me tell you, once I got our meal planning routine down, taking care of the meals (and our budget) got a lot easier. So today I wanted to share four simple steps to make your meal planning simple.

Step One: Designate a grocery shopping day and determine what you already have.
Saturdays are my grocery day and because it's essentially set in stone it makes meal planning a breeze. I essentially have two days to get our meals for the week in order. First check to see what we already have in the fridge (including remaining leftovers) and the pantry. Now since our grocery store's flyer comes out on Thursdays, the flyer sets the tone for most of our meals because it makes it lends itself well to budgeting. Which leads me to the next step . . .

Step Two: Browse the flyer for ideas and sales.
If I'm stuck on what to make certain nights I'll use the flyer to come up with meals that coincide with any current sales. It's pretty straightforward - let's say ground beef and shredded cheese are on sale. Guess what we're having for dinner one night . . . you guess it, tacos! What's really great is when there are buy one get ones. I usually stock up on those and repeat a meal two weeks later.
Step Three: Keep a running list of favorite meals as a backup plan.
If nothing good is on sale, or I'm having a hard time coming up with ideas, I tend to rely on my running list as a backup plan. You could even have set days like meatless Mondays, Slow Cooker Sundays, etc. Or even a list of everyone's favorite recipes. Anything that you find that helps you with your end goal of setting a meal for each day and sticking to it.
Step Four: Use a meal planning template and laminate it.
This step has been an absolute game-changer. I used to use meal planner notepads but I always found myself scratching days out and rearranging the meals, which in turn wasted a lot of paper. One day I decided to laminate two sheets of the meal planner notepad and use Vis A Vis maker and viola! If I have to change a meal for a day, I just wipe it off and write the new meal in. I use the second one as a catch-all throughout the week if my family mentions any cravings and add it to a meal planner for the next week. That way I'm one step closer to having the following week filled out. If you'd like me to share one, let me know in the comments below.

What do YOU do to make meal planning easy? Do you do what I do? Do you have a tip that I didn't share? Let me know in the comments below.

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