Ask Away Blog: A Beginner's Guide to Meal Planning

A Beginner's Guide to Meal Planning

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

A Beginner's Guide to Meal Planning
Everyone likes to talk about meal planning when it comes to their family dinners and how to shop financially savvy for groceries but so many of the rest of us are wondering how the heck do you get started?   And what do you do with all the existing stuff in your pantry? And how does this save you money? And how do you track what you're planning?

Well, relax because today I've made up a beginner's guide to everything you need to know and do when it comes to meal planning. 
First of all, why meal planning? 
Well, there are many benefits to meal planning whether you do it for every meal or just for dinner.  

Financially, you'll save money because you'll only buy what you need in a certain period of time so not only will you be less likely to impulse buy but you won't have food going bad that you have to throw away.  That's basically a waste of money AND FOOD! 

You'll save time and energy because you won't have to panic to figure out what to make or run out to the store for last minute ingredients.  By planning it all out you'll be laying out a plan and a schedule that you stick to so that the act of figuring out what to eat or make for a meal is basically mindless.  

What do you need to start meal planning? 
It's simple, you just need a pen, paper for grocery lists, and some sort of way to plan your meals.  You can make your own calendar, use a spare calendar you have sitting around, or use the free printable weekly or monthly meal planners in my Home Management Binder that you can get sent your inbox immediately! 


A Beginner's Guide to Meal Planning and Free Printable

It's so awesome to be able to plan stuff out so easily so get your free meal planning goodies here. You'll even get a list of ideas for meals that you can rotate throughout the month. 

How do you get started? 
This is the fun part. So since it's your first time, there's one thing we need to do before we start planning things out and that's use up what is currently in the pantry.  Things that are out of the ordinary that you may not eat on a regular basis in your household.  That could be pasta, frozen veggies, sauces, cans of beans, or different types of rices. You want to set all these items out in front of you on the counter or wherever you're going to sit down and plan out your meals.  

Now sit down, grab whatever you're using to write with and whatever you plan to use as your calendar and let's get started.  

For the next week/month/2 weeks or however you're doing it, cross off any days you know you aren't cooking dinner at home like maybe you are going out somewhere, have an event to attend where dinner is provided, or you want to celebrate with a pizza night.  Those are days you don't have to plan dinner.  

Then for the rest of the days you want to try to think up meals to make either based on what your family enjoys, the ingredients you have in front of you, or the free 30 days of meal ideas from my Home Management Binder above. If you have a collection of recipes (I have a recipe binder) then go through that and take out the recipes for the next few days or weeks of meals.  

You may choose to write easier meals on days where you have more going on.  Once you have every day or week filled in, you will want to make your grocery list for the next time you go shopping.  If you shop every week, then only include meals coming up in the next 7 days.  If you shop every 2 weeks then look at the next 2 weeks of meals.  

A Beginner's Guide to Meal Planning

Now you will want to go through each day's meal or meals and each recipe you have in front of you and write down all the ingredients you'll need to buy.  This step requires you to get up and check your pantries at times to see if you already have enough of a staple ingredient on hand.  See what's happening here? You won't be buying excess because you'll know what you have and what you need.  Also include any items you consume regularly for lunch, breakfast, and snacks if you eat the same thing every day.  If you have kids and you pack lunches for them you may want to plan out their lunches just like you did dinners.  Also make sure to check stock of toiletries and other household items. 

Now the key to making a good grocery list is putting everything in the order of the layout of the store.  Most of us know the layout by now since we're there so often.  This step is saving you money and time because you won't be going in and out of random aisles you don't need to be in and grabbing impulse buys.  Stick to your list and only your list.  If you go to grab something you see that's not on your list, remind yourself that your eating habits are now planned out so you have no use for extra stuff ESPECIALLY if it's unhealthy.  

Now each night or day you'll open your calendar and see what you have planned to eat for that day.  

Congratulations because now you know how to start meal planning! 

How is this process going to simplify your life? 
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A Beginner's Guide to Meal Planning




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4 comments:

  1. I so need to get better at this.

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    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The sooner the start, the sooner you save money and time!

      Delete
  2. I think about grocery shopping when my pantry/fridge has run dry, so I usually skip the step of checking what's in your pantry/fridge. But also, I live with only one other roomie, so it's pretty easy for me to keep track of what we have in the apartment as we go! Before grocery shopping, I always think of what meals I want to eat the following week, and then I head out to the supermarket and make my way down the ingredients list! I think our processes are quite similar :D Thanks for sharing! -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm in the same boat because it's just me and my husband so it's very easy to know when to shop and what we're out of. But yes girl you are doing it right!! Good job!

      Delete

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