Ahh, meal planning.. how I love and hate you all at the same time! You are such a great and fascinating process but oh such a pain in the butt. You’ve seen my menus now let me tell you how I come up with them.. 90% of the time..
How I Meal Plan!
Step 1) Eat something and make a glass of water/tea/coffee before you start. You will make better choices and be more patient with yourself and the time it takes to write a menu.
Step 2) Grab your menu sheet or a piece of paper and calendar and make note of any events going on each day that affect your time for dinner prep and making.
Step 3) Look at what’s in your fridge. What items do you need to cook ASAP before they go bad and have to get thrown out? If you find any, put those on the first few days of your menu. What items still have a few days left but will need to be tossed out before the weeks over? Add those to the next few days on your list.
Step 4) Now that you’ve accounted for the perishables in the fridge, what is in the freezer and cupboards to use? This is the hardest part of it all! You have to either know what’s in your freezer and cupboards or spend a good chunk of time looking through them to see what to eat. What if you’re running low on proteins for the week? That takes us to step 5!
Step 5) Look at the ads to see what’s on sale in your local area. This can be accomplished with the paper ads, Flipp app, or the store’s website. I also say local area because even though something might have a great price in the next city over, don’t forget about the cost of driving there and back! Right now the IRS says the standard mileage rate is ~ 55 cents a mile. When I look at good prices on food, I keep that in mind. If my cheapest store is 14 miles, round trip, away I need to add $7.70 to my total bill. My preferred store is only 5 miles away. So if I drive to the store am I really going to save $4.95 on my groceries?? You can, but it takes a lot of effort to know those numbers! Now, if I am going to be in that area for another reason, I make and take my list with me, and stop by.
Step 6) Finish filling in your days, and make your shopping list!
It can be very consuming to make a menu, but the effort is so worth it! You are less likely to toss out food because you forgot about it. You don’t eat out/order which saves you money. You get pretty good control over your ingredients and methods. You get to cook with and feed your family a homemade meal; which has a lot of emotional positives!
Also, when life goes to sideways and you end up not following the Meal Plan, forgive your life and move on! Don’t get caught up stressing about the plan. Use the things that need to get eaten, breakfast and lunch are great options, and move forward! It’s a Plan not strict requirement and life will happen!
What’s on your menu for next week?!? Enjoy!