Here’s how I meal plan, I’ve even included a free menu planner download to help you get started.
I have a confession. I’m not the best cook in the world. I’m not the worst. But I’m so not the best. I think to be the best at something you have to enjoy it and have passion for it. For me, most days are a struggle when it comes to cooking. It’s not that I mind it, but I just don’t always enjoy cooking.
I think that’s because most days I’m tired. Work was long and stressful. When I get home all I want to do is change into sweat pants and a baggy t-shirt. I’m tired, I’m hungry and I’m starting to get cranky. The last thing I want to do is be cooking for an hour before even getting sit down and relax.
I have found what helps me best to control my crankiness and our budget is to meal plan. I have to admit our budget is looking a lot better since I started meal planning. I keep it simple and easy, too. I only plan for 2 weeks at a time. To avoid being overwhelmed.
TIP: Find easy recipes on Pinterest or list out ones you already know. It makes preparing dinner 1000 times easier if the recipe isn’t complicated.
Make your plan then write a list of every ingredient you’re going to need. Go through your freezer, fridge and pantry to check off what you already have. That way you don’t buy something you don’t need.
Afterwards I make a master grocery list. I plan ahead with using my favorite money saving apps and coupons. Then
I go grocery shopping early Sunday morning or late Sunday night to avoid crowds. I try to get everything we need for 2 weeks in one trip. Sometimes I have to go back for fresh produce, but those trips aren’t costly. I always make sure I have enough in our grocery budget by checking our cash envelopes.
Usually the breakfast section is just for me. J has me buy those breakfast sandwiches and he tends to stick to them during the week. On the weekends I like to cook a little something. Right now with it being tax season and me working 6 days a week, Saturdays are pretty simple.
Same with the lunch section . J tends to eat the same thing every day. So I just make sure I buy enough for his lunches and he’s good to go. I like variety so I use the lunch section more for me. If we plan it right then I usually get to take left overs the next day to work with me. That’s what L/O stands for. If I know that I’m planning to take L/O the next day to work then I will make sure to make a little extra the night before.
Remember to keep your meal plan simple. Don’t plan these elaborate meals, buy all this food and then not feel like cooking it. That was my biggest fault. I like what I see on Pinterest, but I had to be honest with myself. If it requires chopping, sauteing, baking, and poaching in ONE recipe it’s not for me.
We also start our weeks on Monday. I like to go shopping on Sunday afternoons (at least that’s what I aim for). So by Sunday we’re pretty sparse. By starting our week on Monday then I know exactly what I have left in the freezer and pantry, and what I need to buy. I left the 2-week meal planner undated so you could start on any day that works best for your family.
As promised! Here’ the 2 week meal plan template for FREE. Click the link to open a PDF version.