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How do I make a meal plan?
Meal planning is pretty simple once you get the hang of it! I have been menu planning for years informally and never really put much thought into it. It was something that I just naturally started doing I guess because I’m a planner. I could never just go to the grocery store without a grocery list and buy a bunch of random stuff. I’ll show you how I make a meal plan for the week. It’s really simple and doesn’t take much work at all! I bet your grocery budget will be lower too since you’ll have a plan and know what you need to buy to feed your family for the week. This is a guide to meal planning for beginners but you may find some helpful tips here even if you already meal plan.
First compile some recipes and favorite meals that you want in your weekly meal planning rotation
I use Pinterest to find new recipes that I want to try and just save them to a board. You can see my favorite recipes board on Pinterest for some inspiration. Don’t forget to follow me while you’re there 🙂 You can be really specific on Pinterest for the type of recipes you want. You can search for healthy meals, lunch ideas, quick breakfast ideas, recipes by a specific ingredient, etc. If you use Pinterest to save recipes, be sure you write the exact recipe name on your menu planner. Trust me, it will make it so much easier for you to look it up when you’re ready to make dinner. There’s nothing worse than standing in your kitchen frantically searching for 20 minutes for the recipe you want to make. Can you tell I’ve made this mistake before? You can also begin to make a list on paper or on your computer or phone of some of your family’s favorite meals. This way you always have some ideas on hand if you can’t think of what you want to put on your weekly meal plan.
Decide which meals are going on your weekly menu planner
Look through your family’s favorite meals and your recipes that you have saved and decide on the meals you want to add to your meal planning template for the week. Be sure to plan some quick meals or leftovers if you have busy nights during the week. I usually try to plan at least 2 meals that have leftovers because there are always nights that I just don’t feel like cooking and my boyfriend takes leftovers in his lunch a lot of times. Usually casseroles and slow cooker meals are the best for leftovers. Don’t forget to plan your breakfast and lunch menus as well. Meal planning for all three meals will save you so much money. You won’t need to grab some quick fast food on your way to work or pick up lunch somewhere. If you’re a beginner at meal planning, you may want to keep your menu plan for the first week or 2 kind of simple so you don’t get overwhelmed with tons of ingredients from new recipes. Once you’ve done it a couple of times, it will be a lot easier to meal plan using new recipes and more ingredients. If you want to have frugal meal plans that come with grocery shopping lists for each week done for you and delivered to your email, you should check out $5 Meal Plans! It’s the cheapest and easiest way to meal plan without all the work of doing it yourself!
Once you’ve decided on your meals for the week, write them in on your Free Printable Meal Planner Template, look through each recipe and see what ingredients are needed and what ingredients you already have on hand. Add the ingredients you need to your grocery shopping list as you write each meal on your weekly menu planner. Be sure to also add whatever snacks you may want for the week to your grocery list as well as any pantry staples that you’re running out of. I always write the number or amount of an item that I need to the left of it so I can be sure to get enough. For instance, if I’m making 2 dishes that have ground beef, I write a 2 next to the ground beef on my list so I know that I need 2 packages for my weekly menu plan. Another tip is to bring your meal planner to the grocery store with you along with your grocery list. It’s good to have it handy in case you forget how much you need of something so you can refer back to the meal planner and see what you have written down.
Remember that meal planning doesn’t need to be complicated
If you’re just beginning to meal plan, it can seem overwhelming. It’s really not. It’s so easy and will really simplify your life once you understand how to do it. If you normally have frozen pizza one night a week or go out for pizza one night a week, put that on your meal plan! Meal planning doesn’t mean you have to make a meal from scratch every night. It’s just about having a plan for when you go grocery shopping so you can stay on budget and so when you get home from work at night you don’t have to ask the dreaded question “What’s for dinner?”. If you feel overwhelmed just thinking about making your own meal plan, you can have it done for you.
When you go grocery shopping, try not to stray from your grocery list
Try to add everything to your grocery list before you go shopping. This way you can check to be sure you’ll be within your grocery budget from the beginning. Avoid just adding random things to your cart that weren’t accounted for in your weekly meal plan unless it’s something you need and forgot to add.
That’s it! You’ve just made a weekly meal plan! Now you’re ready to have an organized and stress-free week of meals! This works great for budget meal planning for 2 people and also for large families. Meal planning can help anyone stay organized and on a budget.
I hope you love this guide to meal planning for beginners and my free printable menu planner and grocery list! If you do, please share it with your friends!
Don’t forget to download your free weekly grocery list and meal planner template!
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