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Meal Planning Series:
Five Tips for Meal Planning that Works

One of the best things we have done to start saving money was to actually start eating at home every night, rather than depending on drive thrus to keep us fed. Not only was this great for our pocket book, but our waist line as well! However, in order to do this, I had to find a way to meal plan that was relatively simple and wasn't going to drive me crazy. Here are my five tips for a meal planning method that works!

Five Tips for Meal Planning that Works!

Think about the planner!

I know I'm a pretty organized person overall but I'm not very creative nor do I absolutely LOVE to cook. So I wanted to keep our menu very simple and with easy ingredients to work with. I know that if I dread cooking the meal, I'm probably just not going to cook it. Since I work from home and my husband does not, I knew I'd be responsible for most of the shopping and cooking, because it was easy for me to do that during the day every day. Allow yourself to be a bit selfish here, and cook foods that you actually enjoy cooking, or are easy for you to prepare, so that you'll stick with it.

Think about your family!

We have a toddler, so fancy, expensive food was out the window since he would likely not be too interested in it. We love food, but we knew keeping our menu easy and simple would be best in the long run for keeping this going and not getting burnt out on cooking or eating it. We also love to eat outside so portable foods are usually on our meal plan too.

Eat your favorite foods!

Before we actually implemented any of these, we sat down and made a long list of our favorite meals. Knowing that we were starting with meals that we already knew we would enjoy was helpful! Instead of heading to Pinterest, which was my old method of meal planning, I looked at what we already had around the house and wrote down the last 10 or so meals that we had eaten and enjoyed. Sometimes when I cook something, Chris will say "I could eat this at least once a week", so all of those went on the list as well. Think about those meals that you turn to when you only have 20 minutes to get dinner on the table and you know you already have the ingredients in your stash. Those went on our list too. I'll be sharing our list in a blog post soon!

Decide on your timeline!

When we started, I was trying to meal plan for a month at a time, and shop for the entire month. It took way too much time and energy and brain power to think that far ahead. I'm not a month-long planner. I'm a week-long planner. It took so much stress off me to just think one week at a time! I put it in my calendar every Friday to meal plan and shop, and now it has become much easier because of these tips!

Push the Repeat Button!

I'm going to go into more detail on this in a future post in this series, but we stick to themed nights to keep it even simpler! I know on Tuesdays, we will have some form of tacos. Friday is usually frozen pizza. We eat the same things for breakfast every day and use leftovers to fill in lunches. I use our master list of meals and since we have about 30 meals on there, we can go through the entire list each month, and then start over the next month. Occasionally, if I'm feeling adventurous, I'll hop on pinterest and throw a new recipe in there to shake things up. I know, I'm living on the edge. Don't worry - I'm not going to jump! But having it on repeat gives me one less thing to think about when planning!

What are your tips for meal planning that work for your family?

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