When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I ate take-out probably 4 times a week. I was tired and nauseated all the time. I really couldn’t have cared less about what I made for dinner. This was one of my biggest mistakes and a complete money-waster. The first thing I did when we started saving more money was create a meal planning chart. It saved me time since I wasn’t pressed to figure out a meal that day and still wonder if I actually had time to make it. It saved money since I used the stuff I already bought and it saved our waistlines since I was trying out new recipes that focused on healthy foods.
I created a printable MealPlanSheet that can either printed each week or printed once and laminated for the fridge. I put a magnet on a dry erase marker and stuck it on the fridge, next to the chart. That way if plans change, it just takes a little swipe to fix it. I add the date to mine and any special things that are going on, in order to give me an idea of what sort of meal to choose. For example, if I have to work that night, I want to make something quick to eat that is also quick to clean up so I’m not late to work.
I make a new plan every two weeks and I think that works the best. I rotate some old favorites, like meatloaf or chicken pot pie and I also try to make a new recipe every week or two from my pinterest boards. You can choose to plan your meals around the sales at your local stores too. That really saves money.
Sales typically repeat themselves every three weeks or so. If you create a price book, you can track the sales on your favorite items and stock up when prices are at their best. It just lists items that you typically buy and has the prices for each time you go to the store. That way, you can track when it goes on sale for the best price and how often. A price book can be as simple or complex as you want since you are the moderator. Use your price book in combination with your meal plan and watch your savings really add up!
I hope this helps you get started on a meal plan. You’ll be an old pro in no time when you see how easy (and dare I say fun) it can be.
Do you plan your meals? What kind of cycle do you use? What are some of your family’s favorite recipes?