Busy moms looking for ways to make the week easier should consider meal planning. It may seem tedious at first but once you’ve done it once you are going to LOVE meal planning in advance. Plus, if you are trying to stick to a certain type of diet this can help you stay on track.
Save Time with Meal Planning
Meal planning can save you the hassle of having to figure out each day what you will be making for dinner. Instead of feeling stressed to get something on the table, you will already know what dinner will be. Not to mention all the wasted time roaming around a grocery store you may have previously done.
Save Money with Meal Planning
Not only will this save you time it will also save you money. Instead of wandering aimlessly through the store, you will know exactly what you are getting. You will not be spending money on items you do not need that week.
Before going to the grocery store plan out all of your meals for two weeks, including the nights you will have leftovers. For example, when you make lasagna, you know there will be leftovers. Plan to have leftovers the next night.
If you know that you are going to make the same side to go with your meals you may want to consider buying those items in bulk. Things like spices, rice, quinoa, and pasta. Granted this only works for items that won’t go bad.
Don’t get overwhelmed
If two weeks is too ambitious start with just one week. You know what works best for you. In our family, planning just three of four meals for dinner is enough. Noah’s off at college so it’s just the three of us. I make large portions, which means there are always leftovers. My kids are at school for lunch, so I never need to plan lunches and I do not meal plan breakfast. Obviously, if this is something you want to do it’s easy to plan all three meals out.
How to Start Meal Planning
1. Make a list of all the dinners your family likes to eat.
This will become your master meal list for you to reference back to each time you plan things out. Grab a piece of notebook paper and ask every family member what their favorite meals are.
Here’s my list to give you some meal ideas:
- Enchiladas Verdes
- Red Enchiladas
- Tater Tot Casserole Recipe
- Taco Soup
- Spicy Chicken Spaghetti or regular chicken spaghetti
- Chicken Alfredo
- Chicken Rigatoni
- Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches
- Cuban Sliders
- White Chicken Chili
- Tacos Al Pastor
- Carne Asada
- Curry Recipe
From your meal list pick out 7 meals for the week and mark them down on this free printable two-week meal planning pdf. Two Week Dinner Plan. Be sure and include when you will eat leftovers and when you will be going out to eat.
For those of you that would love to plan every aspect of it out for the week, I’ve put together a lengthy meal planner you can print out and fill in. It includes grocery lists, a weekly menu, fridge inventory, recipe cards, and more.
2. Make a Grocery List
Once you’ve got your meal plan for the week look through your pantry, fridge, and freezer to see what you need and what you do not need. Hopefully, you’ve got a bunch of ingredients already on hand.
3. Buy Groceries
I prefer to order my groceries online through Clicklist, Amazon Fresh, or another store. When you order online it tracks what you buy and will recommend your items to you the next time you shop. When first ordering this may seem time-consuming but once your items are tracked it gets faster and faster to order. Plus, not going into the grocery store will save you a lot of time.
4. Make Your Meals
Now every day you know exactly what you are making for dinner. You do not have to stop and try to figure out what’s for dinner or sort through the pantry to see if you have what you need to make a certain meal. You already know exactly what you have because you planned it all out.
We’ve got lots of recipes across the website. I like to make certain things that need the same ingredients in the same week. For example, I will make Zuppa Toscana an Olive Garden Copycat Soup Recipe and then a day or two later make Italian Sausage Wedding Soup. They both need kale and typically one bunch of kale is huge, so I use one half for the first soup and the other half for the second soup. Another one that’s great to make is Mexican Lasagna after having carnitas tacos. I use the leftover meat in the lasagna.
If meal planning still doesn’t seem like something you want to do consider a meal kit service like HelloFresh. You pick your meals for the week and can pick them out weeks in advance. Save $100 on your first Box of HelloFresh with my code HS-HZOAYNM0Q.
Do you have any meal planning tips? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.