10 Tips for Successful Meal Planning {Frugal Friday}

Meal Planning

Living the Frugal life {Meal Planning}

“What’s for dinner mom?” “So, did you have a plan for dinner at all wifey?” It was these types of comments that drove me bonkers and into a inspiration to get this aspect of our lives structured through, meal planning. Yes the dreaded meal planning. It can be a overwhelming task and almost a bad word in some households but once you get a system in play you will wonder why you never started earlier.

As a family of five and with only one vehicle, most days are pretty frenzied from running late, driving back and forth to drop off my husband, one kid to school and the other to some sort of program. Having that meal plan in place makes for calmer days along with fast, efficient and money saving grocery shopping trips when the time comes.

Here are my top 10 tips to getting started on your meal planning journey, smoother days and a happier bank account.

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Tip #1) Try and pick a day or evening, whichever one works best for you and designate this time as your meal planning time. A time when you won’t be interrupted by anything or anyone.

Tip #2) Decide what is best for your sanity and family, do you want to plan every 2 weeks or for the entire month in advance? For myself it’s 2 weeks at a time, as that is all I can handle organizing.

Tip #3) Print out a meal planning template. There are many that you can get online for free like this one or this one. Or if you are one of those DIY’ers, create your own.

Tip #4) Take a quick look at what you have left in your fridge, freezer and cupboards. Find out if anything is expiring soon and make some mental notes, or if it is easier for you, jot it down.

Tip #5) Grab a glass of wine, tea, coffee, whatever tickles your fancy and get ready to spend an hour or two creating your meal plan.  I like to sit down with a cup of tea, a snack and Netflix running in the background.

Tip #6) This is where all those recipes that you pinned on Pinterest many months ago come into handy. Finally you can create that dish you were drooling over! The first thing I do is scan through my Pinterest board and a few of my favorite cookbooks. Then start writing down which new recipes I want to add. I usually go for one to two new ones per week along with at least one crock pot option. The new Trim Healthy Mama book has amazing, easy and healthy crock pot options.

Tip #7) Pick which days you are going to use your staple meals first. For us, Friday is always pizza night and Tuesdays are usually taco Tuesday. We have been known to mix it up by adding rice or doing lettuce fajita’s instead, for a little change. Then you can fill out the rest of the sheet with the remaining recipes.

Tip #8) Now it’s time to create that shopping list. This is where those mental notes come into play. Make sure you aren’t buying another thing of ketchup if you saw that you already have a back up in the pantry (speaking from experience here, it happens to the best of us).  It is also where you can look at the recipes that you have chosen and know that you already have that ingredient or need to add it to that weeks shop.

Tip #9) It is okay to be flexible throughout the week. If you had spaghetti down for dinner on Wednesday night but just aren’t in the mood then switch it over with another day. Be as flexible or strict as your personality allows.

Finally,

Tip# 10) Stick to your grocery list. Before you head out to do your shopping make sure that you have a filling meal! I have found that if we are hungry when shopping we always end up putting items in our cart that we really did not need.

Meal planning doesn’t have to be scary, frustrating or a hassle. It may take you a few tries but soon it will get easier and easier.

headshot-2Shannon is a learning every day, relying on grace type mama to her three children. She has a love for seeking out ethically sourced goods along with a passion to support businesses in her surrounding area and spreading kindness through her #kindnessmovement. You will often find her at home where she homeschooling her two youngest or out on a grand outdoor adventure with the entire family where they find the most joy.

You can find her over at Adventurous Mama, or visit her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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