Meal Planning How To’s + Shopping List

Do you struggle with ideas on what to have for dinner and kids saying I want this or I want that ??? 

I used to struggle with this very exactly this. I have one picky eater(who is on a special diet) and another that would eat cereal for every single meal if I let him.

I decided to start to meal planning again a few months ago. I have always tried to plan meals just slacked on it for a few months, and let me tell you its SO much easier.

I do my meal plan a month at a time. You can print a monthly meal plan here. If monthly meal planning seems too much you for you that’s ok to you can also do weekly meal plans(Printable Weekly Meal Plan ). I had one of these weekly ones laminated so I can write the weeks meals on it and hang it on fridge. It works perfectly, laminate, then I use Expo ultra fine tip dry erase markers.

 

Here is the Monthly Meal Planner I use

 

 

Weekly Meal Planner

First I add month to meal planner(mine tends to run into the other month just because I started it in the middle of the month when I planned the 1st one)

On left side label weeks dates Monday-Sunday, then I get to work. I highlight important dates(ex:  events,no school days, or days I know for sure we wont be eating at home for that meal)

It usually takes me awhile to plan the whole month out. I try to cross reference it with school lunch menu too. I wont lie theres been a time or two(maybe a few more… LOL) that kids have been like UGH tacos I had that for lunch.

Once I have lunches figured out, I get to work on dinner. I will do the first 2 weeks, now that it’s getting warmer I can check the weather app and see what days it will be nice out so we can have supper on the grill. Rainy days crock pot works awesome! Between Pinterest, and cookbooks I can usually make a monthly plan for dinners pretty quick once I get going. Also I keep prior months plans in a binder along with recipes and extra copies of meal plans, and shopping lists. I use a Shopping List I found years ago that has spots for price as well as coupons so I can add up what I’m spending before I even go shopping.  Printable Shopping List

Shopping List

 

Once I have whole meal plan complete, Do a look over through your pantry, cabinets and fridge and freezer. to see what Items you already have that can be used to make meals. Example: say last month I stocked up on tomato sauce. well if spaghetti is on the meal planner then I know I dont need tomato sauce so I look for other ingredients I already have as well. I do this for every week and then …… comes the fun part 🙂

Using the printable shopping list go across each week and write down any items for each meal that you need. Once you have the list done for the whole month you can do price comparisons between stores(flyer, online ad etc). My main go to store is ALDI. You can get so much there and the prices are amazing. Sams Club is another must. I can usually get almost everything I need at these two stores. There is also times I will have a small list for Piggly Wiggly, Festival Foods or Walmart( I spend ALOT of time going through flyers(paper and online ads). I coupon so if I can get canned veggies cheaper at Piggly Wiggly than Aldis I will do that. Saving Money is a HUGE part of why I coupon and spend so much time making sure I’m getting the best deals.

Another money-saving idea is Apps on your phone.(Join Ibotta and get a $10 Bonus by clicking this link) Ibotta,and Checkout 51 are 2 of my favorites. I always check these to see what items are on my shopping list and write the savings amount in the coupon section on the shopping list. You can also write a little reminder or highlight which app savings is on so when you are ready to claim your savings you don’t have to search. I’ll be honest I wrote  down a salad dressing last night and then I could not remember which app it was on so I ended up not getting it, then of course I get home and hello there it is :/

Another great app and website is Coupons.com these are printable manufacturer coupons that you can use in store to save even more money. I love coupons. If I don’t have ones from paper my main go to is coupons.com.

Meal planning does take some time, and like I said at the beginning, if doing a months worth of meals seems to much start by doing 2 weeks. It really does get easier the more you do it.  Yes my meal plan is flexible, say something comes up and we go out for dinner, or to a family members for dinner with short notice. That’s OK  you can always push the meal back to another day. What if you have meat thawed and something comes up that you aren’t home, well that’s ok to just push it back to the next night. I’m learning the more flexible you are with your plan the more fun it is to do it. It may seem like a chore at first, well if you had a long day and don’t want to cook something(which let’s face it we all have done that), well than order takeout whatever you want. 🙂

 

I am more than happy to help with any questions you may have, and I would be willing to share some meal ideas with you as well. Please comment your questions on this post. If you are just starting out and nervous please don’t be I am here to help.

 

I really hope you are able to use this post as a tool to help you plan meals.

 

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Meal Planning How To’s + Shopping List

  1. RM says:

    I’m totally stealing your idea to laminate the weekly chart! Such a great idea and I need to stay organized as possible with meal planning due to my son has special needs and I have diabetes and fibromyalgia 🙂

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