Meal Planning saves my life, keeps my stress down and keeps my family happy and well-fed!
I have been meal planning consistently for years now and have made it a habit. I think meal planning has a bad rep with thoughts of: it’s going to take too long, it stresses me out and I don’t have time. You may find yourself thinking these thoughts when deciding if you want to sit down and do this task…I’m here to help you overcome these habit crippling thoughts.
I want to help you become the best meal planner and change your attitude towards this task.
It starts with having a meal-planner.
Have you signed up to be on my email list, yet? If you haven’t you can go HERE and once you sign up you will receive my free printable for meal planning.
I love using this Simple Purposeful Living Meal Planner too. It is really simple, your weekly plan is on the left-hand side and on the right-hand side is your grocery list. The grocery list is seperated into food categories, which makes it easier when shopping. There is a perforated line so you can detach the grocery list to take with you to the store. Here is how a page looks:
Once you have a printable or a planner to use, you need to decide when you will meal plan.
- Consider when is the best time for you to go grocery shopping?
- This day changes for me based on my schedule and the kid’s schedule but I like to go at the beginning of the week. Some seasons it’s been on Mondays but now it is Tuesdays for me.
- To help yourself be consistent with meal planning I find it best to give yourself a window of a couple of days to get it done.
- Week to week your schedule may change so you can’t always do it on say a Friday morning. My window is Fri-Sun, you need to get it done before the day you plan to do your shopping.
- Overall, I find Saturday mornings to work best for me if there aren’t any early morning kid sports to attend. My boys are usually chill on Saturday morning and content playing quietly and are happy they aren’t having to rush off to school.
- Have a ritual in place, mix a task with something you enjoy
- Mine is I plan over a nice hot cup of coffee
- I get my planner out and see what we have going on in the next week
- Look to see what nights your family has an activity, these nights it’s good to plan a slow-cooker or insta-pot meal
- Do you have social plans or nights you are planning to go out to dinner? Write these plans on the night they are happening in your planner. Now you can see which nights you are available to cook dinner
Tips for Meal-Planning:
- Start your list out with adding your weekly basics of what you reguarly need, mine are:
- Fresh lunch meat & cheese
- Bread and mini eggo pancakes
- Lettuce, tomato, cucumber & avocados
- Strawberries, blueberries, bananas, cuties & apples
- Cottage cheese, string cheese & yogurt
- Items for the boy’s lunches: granola bars, protein bars, fruit snacks, chips, etc.
- Think about what proteins you want to use that week or which ones you have on hand before you decide what recipe you want to make. I usually have a mix of, ground beef or turkey, a meat-less night, fish, chicken or pork.
- To keep it interesting I usually have a salad night, a soup, a taco night and a lot of times a pizza night.
- Not every meal needs to be fancy, the idea is just having a plan and knowing ahead of time what you are going to do for dinner
- If you are able to prep during the day (or chose a time to prep during the weekend for you working Mama’s) this helps, that way when 5’oclock rolls around you aren’t as stressed on the amount of time you have to get dinner made and on the table
- Plan for a left-overs night
- Plan for one night to be an easy Trader Joes creation or meal
- Purchase food and bulk items when they go on sale and freeze them until you need them. Did you know you can freeze items like shredded cheese? A list of what food is freezable.
- A great resource for saving on your grocery bill is the MoneySavingMom, check her out…she is full of great tips & doable practices to save on expensive groceries.
- I purchase bulk items when I can from Costco. Every week I get what I can from Trader Joes. And we can finally use Amazon Fresh for the rest of our groceries. Our main grocery store Ralphs closed near us and I was having to drive further to another one.
- Use services like Amazon Fresh to help you save time. If you are a prime member (which I can’t recommend enough for us busy moms) all orders over $35 are free for delivery and this service is now included for Prime member, WooHoo, best news ever!!
- When you are storing your groceries, look for ways to keep your food fresh and last longer. Check out my post on how to organize your pantry for ideas.
Useful Tools in place for storing your favorite recipes: I don’t know about you but I am printing a lot of recipes these days. If I really like a recipe and want to use it again I put it into my white folder, labeled recipes and it will be filed later into a recipe binder.
Here is what my recipe binders look like:
Here are the food categories I use for my tab dividers:
- Bowls (think: burrito bowls, Quinoa bowls)
- Ground Beef
- Instapot meals
- Low-carb soups
Sources for Recipes:
- The obvious places: Google & Pinterest
- Blogs (the ones I love for recipes): Carolina Charm, Mix and Match Mama, Momfessionals, Money Saving Mom, Southern Curls & Pearls, A whole lotta oven and The real food dietatians
- My favorite go-to cookbooks:
- Seriously Good Freezer Meals
- William-Sonoma: The Weeknight Cook (I love how William-Sonoma breaks up their recipes, very simple and straight-forward)
- William-Sonoma: Food Made Fast
- Ultimate Food Bundles (I purchased this one from (The real food dietatians) I loved this bundle of recipes and use it on a regular basis.
- It is a bundle of ebook cookbook recipes from a variety of authors. They come categorized by Keto, slow-cooker, low-carb, family-friendly, etc. so you can search based on the type of recipe you want.
- I recommend following (therealfoodrds) on Instagram to see when they are offering another deal like this one because I can’t recommend these types of recipe bundles enough.
- Once you purchase the bundle you download all the recipes to your computer and they are separated by food categories and then there are several recipe ebooks under each category.
- My health coach, Megan Stutz @hustleandbliss
- Megan has been my health coach for a while now and is so knowledgeable on food, fitness and catering a plan for your personal health goals. I highly recommend her!
- Eat at home cooks (I purchased a subscription for a limited time). It gives you weekly meal plans and grocery lists categorized by color for each recipe.
- They give you meal plans each week for 4 categories: Traditional, Slow-cooker/Instapot, Wholesome Traditional and No Flour/No Sugar plans.
- It’s $14/mon and less if you purchase quarterly or annually.
- I purchased my membership through moneysavingmom (she usually does a partnership with Eat at home cooks, twice a year where you can get a lower cost per month. When she was sponsoring them, I got a deal of $9/month and canceled it after 4 months when I collected a good amount of recipes.
Well, this turned into a long post but I wanted to give you lots of tools, tips, and resources to get you started. I will follow up a lot on this topic for that I am very passionate about getting all you Mama’s out there meal-planning and cooking!! Please let me know if you have any questions about meal-planning or ideas of topics with meal-planning that you would like to see from me. I’m here for you through this journey of making meal-planning a habit! You CAN do it!!