I’ve been wanting to try something new with my current meal planning strategy. I can’t say it enough what an important role that meal planning has played in keeping my family’s grocery budget under control! If you happened to catch my post “How I Meal Plan for My Family of 5” you’ll know all about my meal planning process.
I currently meal plan on a weekly basis. This is just what has worked for me for the longest time. We use to be in a much smaller space so it was never necessary to over crowd my cabinets and refrigerator with food. Quite frankly, I always felt like doing a monthly meal plan versus a weekly meal plan meant also making the change to do all of my grocery shopping all at once. Something ya girl just wasn’t ready to do! So I just stayed clear of that.
I have since come to my senses and decided to try it out with the new month coming up. Things have been really busy around the house with so much change going, and just to cut down on the time I’m spending meal planning, cooking, and meal prepping, I’m going to plan things out for a full month, and see how it goes. I want to start to buy more in bulk to keep things on hand, and hopefully be able to prep and freeze more things with the added space that we have now.
I don’t expect the change from weekly to monthly to be too different. It’s essentially just doing what I’ve been doing but on a larger scale. No pressure.
I always start off looking through my kitchen with things that I currently have. Out with the old and in with the new. If there is anything that I need to use before it goes bad, like fresh produce or bread I’ll make sure to add that to my first week of meals. Even having an abundance of nonperishable items like beans or diced tomatoes can be inspiration for a meal throughout the month like chili or a soup. Always start with what you already have. This will help to cut down on food waste, and also save you money in the long run.
Be sure to subscribe and look out for my post on how to cut down your food waste. In the mean time, check out 20 Ways to Save on Your Groceries
Recipes and Meal Collection
Start collecting a list of things that your family already enjoys eating on a regular basis. Most of us don’t realize it but we’re creatures of habit and more than likely have at least a handful of meals on a monthly basis. This is also where you can plan to finally try that meal that you’ve been wanting to try, or maybe you’ve gotten a new cookbook that you need to open up. Add some of those items to your list. I like to keep a running list so it’s easier to just choose a few items and go from there.
Check out my Pinterest page for some tasty meal inspiration here!
Check Your Schedule
Before you’re able to really plan out which meal goes where on your monthly plan, you first have to check your family schedule. Maybe your kids have extracurricular activities certain days out of the week, or you have days that are normally just busier than others. It would probably make sense for you to plan a quick and easy meal that day, or leftovers from a day or two before. You can even plan to eat out or order in.
Plan Your Meals
The best way to really benefit from meal planning is to plan your meals around corresponding ingredients. If you’re having chili one day during the week, maybe it makes sense for you to have nachos a day or two later with the leftovers. This also puts you in a position to possibly have things like cheese, green onion, or sour cream on hand, depending on how you top your chili. Something like this could also work by using a protein that you’ve cooked one day and using it for salads, soups, or sandwiches the following day. The possibilities are endless when you’re mixing and matching your foods up for each week.
How do you guys meal plan? Are you a weekly or monthly planner? Let me know in the comments.