Meal planning is a game changer in my house. That is why I am excited to share these tips for meal planning with you. I love having meals planned so that I can plan ahead on prep work during the week. It is also great because I can work my meals around the sales for the week and what we have on hand so food doesn’t get wasted. I also use this Printable Menu Planner and Shopping List Maker to be more effective and make sure you don’t overshop (or under shop) while at the store.
Tips for Meal Planning:
- Make a list of all of the meals/dishes your family likes to eat and organize them by cuisine. If you need an idea, we have shared our dinner meal ideas here that you can use for inspiration.
- Use a menu planner and plan two weeks at a time. You can do this by day, or just make a list of the meals you want to make and choose one each night.
- When planning your meals, check your calendar for events and activities that might make it so you don’t have as much time or that will make it so you won’t be home. Then you can plan ahead with a quick meal, or just plan to eat out that night.
- Don’t over-plan. At first, you may get excited and decide to try all these fancy meals – keep it simple. You won’t have any extra energy just because the meal idea is planned.
- Keep about every third day open for leftovers. I initially just did Wednesdays as a leftover day and tried eating the leftovers for lunches as well, but every third or fourth day works better for us. You can choose.
- Don’t be afraid to try new things. This is a great time to try new recipes and see what your family likes and doesn’t. You may be surprised.
- Make a grocery budget and STICK TO IT. This can especially tricky if you are not used to cooking and are trying to get a good pantry stock – but I promise it is worth it. After a few weeks, you will have more and more on hand of the things you use the most and it will make it easier to cook what you want.
- Shop the GOOD sales and stock up on items. I love when stores have clearance or really good sales. I am able to get 5-10 items that I know I use a lot and get them for a lower price until they go on sale again.
- When you cook your meals, don’t make too much. Unless you plan on doing a batch for dinner and another for a freezer meal.
- You can take any leftovers and put them into meal prep containers and store them. These are fantastic to take to work the next day or have ready for lunches without getting all the different dishes out that you stored your leftovers in.
I really hope this list helps you with your meal planning and that you can save money and time by cooking great meals at home! If you need inspiration, here are some recipes that you can try:
12 rice recipes for quick and easy meals
7 easy meal ideas (family-friendly)
Chicken Enchilada Shish Kabobs
Chicken Stroganoff Recipe (slow cooker or Instant Pot)
Mexican Chicken Drumsticks Recipe
What are tips for meal planning that you have?
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