Meal Planning 101

food

Does meal planning sound daunting to you?

It shouldn’t!

Meal planning is easy-peasy and makes life SO much simpler, especially if you are on a tight budget.

I plan meals for two weeks at a time, because we get paid every two weeks.  I know that by the end of the pay cycle, we will be broke again, so I make sure to get everything I need in one trip.  With a meal plan I never have to be scrambling around at 4pm, wondering what I’m going to make for dinner, or if I have the ingredients I need.  Which is helpful when you have a couple of three year olds running around.

Here is my meal planning method; give it a try, it just might make your life a little easier!

1.  The day before payday I sit down in front of the computer with a notebook and a pen, and I pull up Pinterest.  That’s right, I actually USE my food boards, and not just to pin insanely decadent desserts that have a week’s worth of calories in them!  I find that using Pinterest boards is easier than digging through a thousand recipe cards or cookbooks.  It is just so nice and organized, and I like seeing pictures of what I’m going to make.

2.  I make a list of what I want to make.

3.  Whenever I pick something, I bring up the recipe and write down what ingredients I’ll need on my grocery list.

4.  If I pick a recipe that I’ve never made before, I write it down now, so that I don’t have to go looking for it later.  If I had a smart phone, I probably wouldn’t bother, because I could just pull up the recipe when I’m in the kitchen, but I live in the Stone Age, so paper and pen it is.

5.  Once I have 14 recipes (if I know I’ll be cooking every night), I figure out what day I want to make each one on.  I take into consideration what our schedule will be like each day.  For example, on the weekends that I work I will schedule meals that are quick and easy, with little or no prep work.

6.  Done!  Really, that’s it.  I now have a complete meal plan for the next two weeks, AND I have most of my grocery list finished.  I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than an hour doing it, even with distractions from the girls.  One hour and I am now prepared for the next two weeks.

And here is what my meal plan looks like….

White pizza grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup
Portabellas stuffed with herbed chickpeas
One pot pasta alfredo
Quinoa veggie “fried rice”
Hummus melts
Chicken noodle soup (leftovers from the freezer)
Cheesy ground beef rice casserole
Spaghetti
Quinoa broccoli casserole
Steaks and baked potatoes
Memorial Day Picnic!!
Cheesy veggie chowder
Chickpea salad sandwiches
Ham and potato bake
Tacos

Now I just have to wait until tomorrow (and payday) to go shopping!

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