The whole idea of meal planning terrified me for a long time. It was a big deal for me to even learn how to cook at the beginning of my marriage, so to actually meal plan? And meal plan so that I can spend the least amount of money each week? It seemed next to impossible!
There are a few things that I learned through my meal planning journey and I go through them pretty extensively in my Meal Planning Part 1 and Meal Planning Part 2 posts.
But I wanted to share a few easy tips to help jumpstart anyone who hasn’t taken the meal planning plunge yet. 🙂
Tip 1: Plan all of your meals on one night (or afternoon) of the week and write down all of the ingredients you need for everything (including snacks) that you want to eat that next week. Cross off the ingredients that you already have in your pantry or freezer, and then write down on a separate sheet of paper the ones that you need to buy at the grocery store.
Tip 2: Once you get the hang of menu planning in general, start planning your menu for the week off of what’s on sale for that week. Eventually, after you have built up your stockpile, you will want to plan your menu for the week with what you already have instead of what’s on sale. Then, when you go to the store, you’ll only get the items that are at their rock-bottom prices to add to your stockpile. But when you first start out and don’t have a stockpile yet, you’ll want to plan your menu for the week around the items that are going to be on sale that week.
Tip 3: When looking at grocery store sales ads, know how the marketers think! There are some GREAT deals in those weekly sales flyers, but there are some prices that aren’t even deals at all. In fact, there are some items that are advertised in the sales flyers that are at (or above) their manufacturer recommended price. We’ve done our best to help you figure out what the best deals are with the Coupon Match-ups page!
Tip 4: Utilize SuperCook and Pinterest to find recipes for ingredients on sale. With SuperCook you can list all of the ingredients that you currently have in your kitchen, plus the ones you plan on buying, and it will give you all of the different recipes that you can make!
Tip 5: ONLY buy the things you were planning on buying! The stores know exactly what to do and where to place items in the store to get us to make impulse buying decisions. If you only buy what you were planning to buy then all of their market research dollars will go to waste (well, at least they will go to waste on you). 😉
I would also recommend reading as much as you can about it!
My friend Crystal VanTassel has written a great eBook that would be perfect for anyone starting out in menu planning. She makes it all seem very doable and gives you several tools along with the eBook to help you succeed!
In her eBook, How to Meal Plan: A Step by Step Guide for Busy Moms, Crystal gives you a list of 20 websites to find recipes on, shows you how to create a grocery list, has printable worksheets already made for you, and lots more!
Right now the How To Meal Plan eBook is only 99¢ on Amazon (reg. $5.99) and is currently as the #1 bestseller in the Consumer Guides section!
(Be sure to read through all of the reviews too!)