There are many schools of thought when it comes to meal planning. But there is one agreement – you can save so much money if you plan your meals. The ideas listed below are not the only ways to meal plan, just ones that friends of mine have tried.
Month At A Time
This takes some serious time thinking out meals and making a grocery list. Many who choose the month method also do a great deal of their shopping for the month in one trip as well. The other option is to plan your month of meals, watch for sales throughout the month and choose which meals to make according to what is on sale.
One – Two Weeks At A Time
Same basic idea as the month at a time, just a shorter version.
Pick and Choose
This is our current plan. Basically, I know all the meals I can make and I pick and choose what meals sound good. I go shopping for those meals and that is that. Normally, I plan seven meals and pick and choose from those throughout the week.
Repeat Two Week Plan
With this plan, people have 14 meals planned out. They make these meals the first two weeks of the month and then repeat the meals. This is easy for grocery shopping, as well.
This is a plan I tried before my children were born and I would like to eventually get back to it. Basically, each day of the week is assigned a particular meal type.
Mondays are pasta meals
Tuesdays are casseroles.
Wednesdays are pasta meals.
Thursdays are leftovers.
Fridays are on the grill.
Saturdays are (family) date night (just keep it cheap!)
Sundays are crock pot meals.
This way you know you need to make a casserole on Tuesday night, but it can be a different one each Tuesday. This plan combines predictability with variety for your family.
Meal planning has saved us more than money. It saves a lot of stress at the end of the day when it is time to start fixing dinner. It also saves last minute and random, multiple trips to the store throughout the week.
I also try to, when unloading and putting away my groceries, put the pantry and refrigerator ingredients together so I am not hunting for the ingredients at the last minute.
One last cooking tip for casseroles. Most days, I prepare a casserole either during breakfast or over lunch, stick it in the refrigerator until it is time to bake it. I put it in the oven at dinner time, turn on the oven to pre-heat (do not stick a cold dish in a hot oven, it may break your dish!) and bake for about 8-10 minutes longer than normal (keep an eye on it because ovens vary).
By Terra Jones