This planned failed quickly! She would often forget to work on the menu on Sunday or just couldn't decide what to make that week. Because of this she would find herself taking time at work writing out a shopping list. She couldn't remember what she already had in the freezer or in the cupboard. This caused her to buy extra items just in case they were out of it at home.
This left her feeling stressed. Why? Because she was playing a guessing game on what she already had on hand. This caused her to take multiple trips to the grocery store when she already had a busy schedule. She had a monthly food budget but because of this lack of planning she would go over every month. Can you feel her stress?
There are some realistic ways to solve this stressful dilemma for her and for you!
I participate in a really great social media forum and this is often the hot topic of discussion. Getting off track with your meal planning is very common and frustrating for most like my client!
Meal planning might not be a big deal for some families. But, if deciding what to make each night is stressing you out then maybe meal planning is your ticket. Within two months of meal planning we had already saved over $100 in grocery bills. To me that is worth it!
TIPS FOR SUCCESS WITH MEAL PLANNING
1. Put it on the calendar! When you first get started plan extra time (maybe plan about 30-45 minutes) to get yourself organized and the menu completed. Pick a time that works best for you and that you won't easily blow it off. My client didn't have it on her calendar so it was easy to forget or push it off for another time.
2. Decide when and where you will be getting your groceries. This will help you determine how much time you will need for shopping. This can also help you to determine what to prepare based on current or upcoming sales.
3. When you sit down for your planning session take out some of your favorite recipes. I think we all have some must have meals. One of our favorites is the homemade marinara with Italian sausage. Delicious!
4. Look over your work and personal calendars for the next 2 weeks that could affect your meals you prepare. If you have an evening activity planned then you might want a quick dinner or something that can travel with you. So don't plan a big gourmet meal if you will only be home for 30 minutes that night before running to piano lessons and soccer practice.
5. Keep it simple! Don't overthink your menu or it will stress you out. Sandwiches, breakfast foods and crockpot meals with fresh vegetables and fruit can all be quick and delicious evening meals. I know some people have great success with doing "theme" nights. Examples would be: meatless Monday, taco Tuesday, wrap it up Wednesday, etc... If it works with your schedule this is another great way to keep it simple so you don't have to stress about what the main course will be each night.
6. No need for a fancy graph or calendar. You can use a free printable online, create your own calendar in a spreadsheet or just scribble it down on a piece of paper and hang it in the kitchen. I like to do a 2 week meal plan. That works best for us so I can get all the groceries in one trip. Some people prefer planning the entire month or just for the week. Decide what works for you and go with it!
7. Write out that shopping list at the same time you work on your meal planning. Don't wait until you are ready to leave the house to run errands. There is a good chance you will forget something or buy more than you need. My client has been more successful with her meal planning now that she has it on her calendar. She does her planning and shopping list all at the same time and is ready to roll when she goes to the grocery store.
I hope some of these tips will help relieve your meal planning stress and maybe even save you money at the end of the month. If you would like to start meal planning and learn more ways to make it less stressful and save on your food budget contact me here.