Step-by-Step Meal Planning
On Monday we talked about menu plans. What they are, how they can save money and stop waste. And I promised to walk you through step-by-step to create your own menu plan. – That day, my friends, is today!
Now just grab your calendar, your favorite collection of recipes, a piece of paper and a pencil then we’ll get started!!!
—- side note
take your time with this – menu planning for the first time might take a little while so know that there’s no need to rush through…
No Really! Take your time and follow the directions step-by-step. It’ll make more sense that way…
end side note—
Here’s an example of what my typical meal plan ends up looking like (click to enlarge) :
Hopefully that’ll give you a better picture of exactly what I’m talking about… And now you can use this to follow along as needed
Alrighty, first things first –
What food is in your kitchen right now?
Got a box of pasta? Maybe some tomato sauce or a bag of potatoes…. Oh! Or leftover veggies from stir-fry night? USE IT! One of the best ways to save money on your grocery bill is to use up all the food you already have in your house!
Go now – go look in your pantry, refrigerator and freezer (all of them if you have multiples) and take inventory of what needs to be used up.
You got it?
Once you know what you already have to work with go ahead and start flipping through those cook books or cooking websites and keep an eye out for recipes calling for food you already have.
Found a recipe/meal you want? Make a note and save it for the next step (which we’ll be coming to in a moment. Take your time and find as many meals as you need for the week or even the month!)
Got a pretty good list of meals that fit with your schedule?
(quickie meals for those days you don’t have a lot of time to cook, recipes that utilize the food you already have, snack foods, and [heck, why not?] desserts)
Sure hope so. Cause now you’re going to get that super-special meal planning tool I talked about the other day. (ha! Bet you’d forgotten all about that didn’t you?) This tool has been the “kick-yourself-in-the-pants-and-get-started-cause-it’s-really-that-easy-slap-in-the-face” for me getting into the habit of meal planning.
You ready for this? – It’s my very own, never-shown-to-anyone menu plan/grocery list template.
(In fact – it’s the very same template you see in our example meal plan from the link above)
And because I want you to be able to get started with the least amount of pain possible I’m making it downloadable with no strings attached – just visit this link and download from there.
- The Awesome, Amazing, Great Menu Plan Template Link -
Now that you have the template and your list of meals/recipes for the week you can start filling in the blanks. (if it helps you can even put events on your schedule straight on your menu plan – like a weekend trip or girls night… it can help keep things simple if you live an extremely busy life)
The easiest place to start would be the date – write down the date for each day of the week.
Next, write down the planned meals for each day in the appropriate slots (breakfast, lunch, dinner).
Lastly, but certainly not least, fill in your grocery list (at the top of the template), go through the recipes for each of your meals and write down the ingredients (you don’t already have) up there under the category it fits under. (so fruits and veggies under produce, chicken, beef, pork, etc. under meat, and so on and so forth)
And Wah La!
Give yourself a round of applause, a pat on the back and special congratulations because you’ve done it!
If you completed each of those steps then you have successfully created your first menu plan!
Now it may have seemed to take forever this first time through but the more you practice the faster you’ll get at the whole process until it becomes second nature to whip out your menu plan template and rattle off a list of meals and ingredients.
So cheers to you, the money (and time) you’ll save by planning out your meals, and a smooth, speedy road to becoming a menu plan master!