Sunday, March 13, 2011

My Favorite Posts {DAY 7}--Hows and Whys of Meal Planning

For no particular reason than to simply take a break from blogging as I gear up for a fun filled  romantic getaway with my hot husband, I'm going to share some of my favorite posts from 2010.

Meal planning can be pretty daunting at first but relax; it's not that bad!  I generally do Once a Month Cooking (OAMC) for dinner meals BUT I still use a meal plan so I know what food to defrost, etc.  In addition, I meal plan breakfast and lunch so there is never any food time guess work or last minute trips to the store for a "must" have ingredient at my house.

First, let me discuss some benefits of meal planning.  Meal plans mean you'll be:

  • Eating out less often and eating pre-packed meals less (this means you'll be eating healthier!)
  • taking fewer trips to the grocery store and ALWAYS having the groceries you need (no frustration or $50 "impulse" buys)
  • throwing away less produce (you'll use the broccoli you buy if it's on the list--this is a HUGE money saver!)
  • enjoying meal variety (no reverting to college quick food days of tacos, sloppy joes, and spaghetti)
  • Less stressed.  You will never have to freak out at 5:00 because you have NO IDEA what's for dinner.
Sounds pretty good, eh?
So how do you meal plan?  Follow these steps.
Step #1--Planning
  • Start with just one mealtime a week (dinner) and gradually work up to planning breakfast/lunch/dinner.  If you over plan at first you'll go crazy!
  • Plan a 6 meal week (which leaves wiggle room for left overs or eating out).  
  • Find 6 dinner recipes you'll want to use for your dinners.
  • Get out a calendar and write down the tentative order of what you'll be eating (as a reminder to you and to stave off the annoying "what's for dinner?" questions).
Step #2 --Shopping list
  • Look through each recipe one at a time and compare ingredients to your pantry to see what ingredients you have and which you'll need to purchase. 
  • ONLY write down ingredients you need (and the general necessities like milk, bread, and eggs).
Step #3--Shopping
  • Grab your coupons and go shopping.
  • Only buy what is on your list.  No impulse shopping (unless there is an amazing sale like chicken breasts on sale for 1.50 a pound, etc.)
Step #4--Cookin' it up
  • This is the best part!  When it's time for dinner, gather the ingredients (you know, the ones that you definitely have on hand), whip up a delicious and healthy meal, and sit down for a quality meal that cost less!
And really, that's it!  As you get more advanced you can start planning for breakfast and lunch too.  If this still sounds like too much work there are TONS of blogs (including mine) that offer meal plans.  Some more advanced blogs come complete with meal plans that have recipes and photos.  This is one of my favorites!

Happy meal planning!

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