I don’t know about you but I really do not like grocery shopping. I’m a fan of quick and easy and fighting the crowds and standing in line at the grocery store do not qualify.
I originally started weekly meal planning as a way to cut my shopping time down. And while I do like to plan on a weekly basis I also keep in mind what is coming up in the next week.
I think that this simple Monthly Meal Planner is quick and easy to use; feel free to download a copy. I sit down once a week and fill out for the week ahead.
For me, breakfast is pretty simple (oatmeal or a protein shake). And I usually take leftovers for lunch. So, I mostly use this guide for planning out my dinners.
It’s a good idea to consider what you have going on during the week. For example, if you have a late book club every Wednesday, then plan something fast for that night.
Also, I know that some of you may have something like Meatless Monday that you do. If that is the case, then go ahead and fill out all the Mondays.
Just have fun with it. Plan dinners that you enjoy and maybe consider adding a new recipe on a night that you have the time.
Since I’ve started Meal Planning, I have noticed that I’m spending less time – and money – at the grocery store. I got to thinking about it and came up with these reasons.
Ways Meal Planning Saves Money:
- Making a list for grocery shopping assures you don’t buy random items and overspend; be sure to stick to your list.
- Since you are able to plan ahead you can now clip coupons that you will actually use.
- Planning to make larger meals allows you to take lunch the next day or have a second dinner for another week. Also consider freezing the second portion for use a busy weeknight when time is short.
- By planning ahead you can schedule menus that include seasonal fruits and vegetables that are less expensive in season. Be sure to also stock up on bulk sales (such as meat) and freeze or store the excess for future meals.
- No unplanned take-out since the menu is planned and you know what you are having for dinner every night.
Ways Meal Planning Saves Time:
- Make a shopping list so you can zip through the grocery store. Just stick to your list and don’t allow any unplanned purchases.
- Plan to make larger batches to cover lunch and/or dinner for another meal. This saves you meal planning and prep time later.
- You have a meal plan so you know what to make each night – no more wasting time trying to figure out what you can make out of odds and ends in your pantry.
- By consulting your Meal Plan, you can double up on meal prep because you know what you need for this week. (For example, cut all your vegetable up for the week.)
- If you have a busy night, then plan to use leftovers or something that you’ve frozen for a quick dinner.
And here are some other helpful tips when Meal Planning:
- Inventory your pantry, refrigerator and freezer. See what you have the making for and build a meal with that. You may have all you need for a meal already there.
- Cook once and eat twice: double up your favorite recipes and freeze the second one for later in the month.
- Prepare ahead. You might find that you can do the meal prep for a couple of meals all at once. For example, chop all the veggies for the week at once and bag them up.
- Be flexible. You may find a great sale on something and decide to incorporate that into your meal plan. Just make some minor changes to your Meal Plan and roll with it.
- Have fun and allow for Take Out nights – whether planned or unplanned. Life gets messy so don’t worry if you go off plan once in a while. You may also consider planning a few take out nights; just write them on your Meal Plan.
- It’s a great idea to keep you Meal Plan posted in your pantry for planning ahead. You may find that by keeping an eye on the coming week, you are able to grab an extra item or two and maybe get two weeks of shopping done in one.
So, even though I started Meal Planning as a way to cut down my time in the grocery store, I’ve also found that I saved money. And it was very easy to do with the Meal Planning Guide. I’m confident that if you take a few minutes to plan out your Meal Plan for the week (and/or month) you will find that you can save time and money, too.