Over the last several years, I have realized the importance of meal planning and the positive effects on my overall wellness. We have been able to save money while sticking to our budget, decrease stress and save this momma's sanity when asked, "What's for supper?" I have learned many useful tips would like to share a few of the basics with you. Meal planning is not meant to be torture (although, when you are first starting out, it may seem that way). I hope you will have a new found peace in this area after you have read through and implemented these tips.
Before you begin:
1. Grab your UPDATED calendar (yours, hubby's, and kiddos). This is important, so you know which nights need to be a crockpot/easy-throw-together meal with little to no prep or which nights you have more time to put into the meal.
2. Set and know your grocery budget. (God desires us to be good stewards of our resources and that includes honoring our finances.) There was a time that Team Shuman actually carried a calculator with us through the store and added up our groceries to stay within our budget. Seems silly, but was an instrumental move to get us out of debt!
3. Gather your favorite recipes that include ingredients and the amounts you will need.
4. Take inventory of your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. More often than not, you will come home from the grocery store with double or triple of something you already have because you did not check these places.
5. Have a visible meal planner!
6. Consider using a grocery list app. I am a pen and paper girl, but have on several occasions, forgotten the list at home or even left it in the van. I always have my phone and therefore will never be without my list again. Another perk to using an app is the ability for other people (your spouse) to add to the list as well via their phone. (Just remember to have auto-sync turned on.) You can check off each item as you buy them, but it saves your list for the next time!
Favorite Apps: Out of Milk (for Android), Any List (for iOS)
1. Meal plan based off the food you already have or meals that will require minimal items bought at the grocery store. This is a HUGE money saver!
2. We all have family favorites in our rotation, but sometimes they can get old. Instead of trying to make all new recipes, try starting with 1-2 new recipes per week. Ask friends or check Pinterest (Be sure to set a timer, so you stay focused and don't spend your entire evening "meal planning.").
3. Ask the family for suggestions. Any complaining at mealtime will be quieted with the fact that you gave them an option to have input for the meals! :)
3. As you choose meals and place them on your planner, be sure to place ALL needed ingredients and amounts of each onto your grocery list. When you are done meal planning, you will know exactly how many pounds of chicken you need or how many cans of beans you need, etc.
Understand and recognize your current season of life. Can you realistically plan for a whole month or do you need to start small and plan 3 days ahead? 1 week? 2 weeks? My husband gets paid bi-weekly and therefore I plan 2 weeks at a time.
I hope this was helpful for you and can relieve some stress and help save you tie and money!