When I first got married, meal planning was a CHORE. I had no idea what to make or when to make it, and how not to spend $1,000 a week on food. It seemed impossible to me but luckily for you, I now have it somewhat down. I have made these lovely (in my opinion) printable meal planning templates along with grocery shopping templates. Download them here

Meal Planning
I also use a program called Plan to Eat. I love this program because you can find recipes anywhere on the internet and save them to this app. It will automatically clip the recipe and the ingredients to your homepage so you can easily find them again. 

 

This post is all about meal planning & a guide to getting it right!

Meal Planner Template

Why meal plan? 

Meal planning might seem like a hassle or like a waste of time but in reality. I save more time by planning and prepping than I would if I had winged it every week. When I meal plan, it only takes me about an hour to get all my ideas together then an hour to shop. 

You can either spend hours trying to find something to eat then see if you have all the ingredients to make it or you can see what’s on the menu and get to cooking. 

You not only save time, but you also save money and food. No more buying tons of produce that you won’t ever use. 

Where to find the recipes

While Pinterest is a great site for finding recipes, I don’t normally use it. I like to have an inventory of at least the meats and grains that I have already.

{Related Posts: Top 5 Fantastic Minimalist Kitchen Essentials Every Person Needs}

 

Then I search for recipes based on the ingredients I already have. Here are a few of my favorite sites.

Meal Planning | Plan the week out

Plan out your week so you know if it needs to be a quick meal, a premade meal, or if you aren’t cooking at all.

Monday Nights: my husband goes to school on Monday nights so it has to be something that is quick and ready for him when he gets home from work. After he eats he leaves for school pretty quick. That usually means Mondays are a crockpot meal.

Sunday nights: also a crockpot meal. After being at church all morning and visiting family, I am exhausted so we either have a free for all night or I make the meal ahead of time.

When I am meal planning, I always buy/make enough to have the same meal the next night. Less money spending that way!

Here is this week’s meal plan:

Monday: Crockpot Teriyaki Chicken

Tuesday: Leftovers

Wednesday: Chicken Fried Rice

Thursday: Leftovers with Different Veggies

Friday: Eating Out at a Friends

Saturday: Tilapia w/ Rice and Mashed Potatoes

Sunday: Free for all (meaning my husband is on his own lol)

Meal Planning | Make a budget & Stick to it

I like to create a budget that can be kind of flexible. I try to go for $130-$200 a week. Do NOT go over the budget so make sure you create one that is realistic. You can totally go lower if you want but I like to have different snacks and lunches available so it does get a bit more expensive. 

When I first started shopping, I would throw whatever I wanted into the cart. The bill added up quickly this way. If you have a budget, it keeps you from buying everything in the store. Most of the time anyway.

Keep your used weekly meal plans

The reason why I don’t laminate my meal plans is that I like to save them for later uses. When I am not in the mood to make a new meal plan, I can grab one of my older ones and use that for the week. If you have enough, you can take a month off of meal planning and just use the old ones you have.

 

Have staples

Keep foods around that you know you love. I keep potatoes around so I can make fries, mashed potatoes, or baked ones. Tilapia and salmon are loved around here so I make sure I am stocked on freezer bags. Burrito bowls are also super easy. As long as you have beans and rice, you can fill the bowls with whatever else you like. 

 

Make it easy on yourself

The easiest way to stick to a meal plan is to not go ham. When I was first doing this, I thought I could make a fancy decadent meal every single night. I thought we would have a jam-packed fridge filled with super healthy and amazing ingredients. I learned pretty quickly that we aren’t rich nor do I have the time for that. So do what you can and don’t be hard on yourself. You can still have amazing dinners and not spend hours putting it together. 

 

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