It's not a secret that I am a little obsessed with meal planning. If you ask anyone in my family - at some point on any given Sunday, you will find me curled up with my schedule, grocery circular and menu list planning out our next two weeks of meals. It's become a simple habit that is as natural as brushing my teeth or doing my laundry.
Now, I will tell you that you have to dedicate some time to this process. It's taken me the better part of 3-4 years to perfect my system - but for me, it works! Some people have to plan for health reasons (Plan to Eat), to loose weight (Skinny Mom's Kitchen) and some plan just because (What's For Dinner?)... For me, it helped me to find a balance between time, money and sanity...
1. Have a Meal List. About a year ago, I created a list of our favorite meals. Every time we try a new meal and we like it, it gets added to the list. You will never have to wonder what to cook or what the family likes. Having a list of the meals the family likes saves you time!
2. Shop the Ad + the Pantry + the Fridge. Always start with the things you have, the things that are on sale and then go from there. You will be pleasantly surprised to see how quickly your week will fill up when you start with the basics. Shopping before you actually hit the store will always save you money!
3. Use Your Schedule. When planning, ALWAYS know what your schedule is. If you are working late, have a busy day and know you need an easy meal... account for that in your planning. Document your meal plan on a family calendar so that you don't get asked 10 times that day "What's for Dinner?" Planning your meal time will hands down - save you time!
4. 3+1+1+1+1=7. I try to incorporate the following routine into our week: 3 White Meat meals + 1 Meatless+ 1 Red Meat + 1 Casserole + 1 New Recipe. Again, simplify the process by making the choices easier and ultimately save you time during the planning process.
5. For Goodness Sakes - Make a List! Without a list, it's virtually impossible for me to know what you need. It's an opportunity for overspending, impulse shopping and wasteful purchases. Do I need to say that this will save you money?
Need list help? Check out ListPlanIt or the many apps available for your portable device.
Still stuck? Post your questions in the comments happy to help! Happy planning!