For years I have been telling my husband that we need to get it together and start meal planning. He agreed and still, we never did it. Instead we spent our weeks grocery shopping without purpose, wasting money, and wasting time. Add to that, eating out too often due to our poor planning which is more money wasted with a healthy dose of a lot of extra calories.
I am excited to say that five weeks ago, we finally did it! I’m also excited to say that it’s been surprisingly simple. I expected that we would stick to it for a week or two and then be back to our old habits, but we’ve been on a roll. We have also enjoyed the process of sitting down to plan out our menu for the week.
I see some meal plans on Pinterest that seem to be overly complicated, but that’s not how I roll. If I’m going to stick to meal planning (or anything, really), it needs to be simple.
I don’t use a binder, printables, or a “system”. Instead, we purchased two small magnetic dry erase boards at Target in those bins of inexpensive goodies at the front of the store. One has the days of the week for the fridge and one for our chest freezer to keep an inventory of what’s in there. Add to that a notebook for working out our weekly meals and shopping list.
For us, the freezer became a black hole and was a big source of our problem. We didn’t always know what we had or how much so it was a mess trying to figure out what we were going to have for dinner during the upcoming week.
Instead of flying by the seat of our pants and maybe remembering to take some things out of the freezer, we now go into the week with a plan. Our week starts on Saturday since that’s when we do our grocery shopping, so on Friday evening or Saturday before heading out to the store, we sit down and talk about what we would like for dinner during the week.
We then write a list of meals on notebook paper along with what we need at the store for our menu and bring it to the grocery store. When we get home we decide what meal we want on a particular day and write in on the dry erase board on the fridge. That’s it!
How it works
Our simple meal plan has been working out so well for us. We now know what we’re making ahead of time so we remember to take food out of the freezer, we no longer have the stress of it being 5:00 with no idea what to make, and my teenage son has liked being able to look at the fridge to see what we’re having that night.
Sure, we still get pizza occasionally, but now we plan it instead of it being a necessity because we forgot to defrost something for dinner.
- Buy a good cookbook or two. I love The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook and The Make Ahead Cook. Both of these cookbooks have easy recipes with a lot of flavor along with a wide variety of meals to choose from.
- Websites like allrecipes.com and food.com have just about any recipe you want to make and I find that their ratings are pretty spot on.
- Find recipes on Pinterest by using the search bar. In general I prefer to find recipes that have ratings, but if you are pretty good in the kitchen you can tell which recipes are probably good to try by reading them.
- You can also check out some of my recipes. In general they are easy to make and hey, my family likes them.