Take Control of Mealtime- How To Plan Meals To Save Money, Time, and Stress!
By Catherine Slezinger
Imagine this: you’re headed to the grocery store, and not only do you know exactly what your entire family will eat for the next week, but you also know exactly how much it will cost when you checkout, tax included! Grocery shopping is as quick and efficient as possible- you’re in and out without buying unnecessary items, and wasting brain cells wondering if you really need that can of diced tomatoes. The next week, you know exactly what you’re going to be making for dinner- no headaches, no stress, and no 5 p.m. dashes to the store or to eat out.
Sound like a fantasy?
It might sound too good to be true, but a meal plan can do all this for you, week after week!
In part 1 of this series, we talked about the three steps you need to do first when it comes to meal planning:
- Establish A Regular Shopping Day
- Plan When You Are Going To Plan
- Pick Your Grocery Stores And Map Out Your Plan of Attack
So what are your next steps? Here is part 2- your next action item for taking control of your family’s weekly meals with a plan!
Step #4 To Take Control of Mealtime: Get A Meal Rotation Going
So now you’ve planned out when you’re going to shop, and where, and you’re ready to figure out what to buy. This final preliminary step is simple. Using your new dedicated shopping day as the North Star guiding everything, make a list of enough of your family’s favorite meals to cover your selected interval between shopping trips.
So, in our house, since grocery shopping is done 1x per week and on Saturdays, when I’m meal planning, I plan meals and supplies for: Sat, Sun, M, T, W, TH and Friday. See how everything hinges on that shopping day? Without it, I wouldn’t even know how many meals to plan or where to start. So the formula is this: Number of days in between shopping trips = How many meals you need to plan for.
Now that I know I need seven meals, I can get to work. Now, if I went grocery shopping every 2 weeks, I’d need fourteen meals. So get your recipe cards out, and keep a little box containing enough recipes to cover your selected interval. In my house this is seven different meals that I rotate.
You don’t have to choose ONLY seven, you can rotate more, but the point is to have meals to draw from when you sit down to plan. Having this recipe box saves time, because you’re not pulling out 5 different cookbooks every time you’re trying to plan your menus. You just grab your box, check out what ingredients you need, and go from there.
So, go right now to WalMart or wherever and get yourself a little recipe box with cards. You know, the old fashioned kind. Then choose the number of meals you are going to rotate.
For me, that’s 7. So now you want to go and copy all your favorite recipes onto these cards. Keep them in your little box, in your kitchen, and refer to them during your weekly planning session. If you need help adding meals to your recipe file, see my cookbook for over 65 recipes suited for any skill level!
Now, when you sit down to meal plan, all you need to do is select your meals, and copy onto a separate piece of paper which ingredients you will be needing to purchase at your next shopping trip.
Your meal plan & grocery list is now coming together nicely! Next week I will be talking about how to use an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of everything and to put the finishing touches on your list! See you then!
Your turn! Leave me a comment and let me know when you’ve selected the meals you’ll use for your family’s rotation!