My wife and I have been meal planning for years now, so it’s second nature to us. I smile when I read articles about how to simplify your life or save money on groceries and they mention meal planning. Honestly, I don’t know why everyone doesn’t do it!
In case anyone is still unclear about how it works — and how easy it is! — I’ll break it down for ya.
You need two slips of paper for two lists, and maybe 15 minutes, tops.
One list is for your weekly meal plan, what you’d like to make and eat. For us, we just plan dinners since we take care of our own breakfasts, and lunch is often dinner leftovers, or we’ll make a sandwich, wrap, or grab something out if need be.
The other list is for the groceries you need to buy to make those meals, plus anything else you are running low on.
Before you go grocery shopping, spend this time planning, looking at what you have in your cupboards and fridge already, and what your week looks like. By knowing what you’ll be making, you know what ingredients you need to buy. Simple! This saves you money because you’re only purchasing food that you will use. We waste very little in our house because of how we plan.
Also, it’s fun having meals to look forward to. To make it even easier, you can theme your nights. For example, we often do Mexican Mondays, or Pasta Wednesdays. Meal planning saves you time at the grocery store, but also in your day, since you won’t be wasting half an hour or more figuring out what you can/want to cook when you get home from work!
Here’s a sample of our weekly dinner plan:
Sunday: Tuna Mac Casserole
Monday: Bean & Cheese Quesadillas
Tuesday: Solo (we both work late on Tuesdays)
Wednesday: Pesto Veg Pasta (soon I’ll post my recipe for homemade pesto which saves a lot of $$!)
Thursday: Coconut Thai Green Curry on Rice
Saturday: dinner out
We also decide who is cooking what meal, according to our work schedules. It makes our life very smooth during the busy work week having these plans in place.
I should also mention that we are still open to spontaneity. Things come up, plans change, and that’s life. We can usually still make the missed meal a day or two later, or use the fresh produce in something else before anything goes bad. We find that having a weekly meal plan is a structure that gives us more freedom, not less.
Do you already plan this way? Or are you newly inspired to try it? Let me know!