Meals to plan and food to cook is non-stop, isn’t it? It’s kind of like dirty laundry, always there, never really going away. As soon as you’re done with one meal, there’s another one coming. Clipping coupons is all the rage when it comes to saving money in a food budget. You can use coupons, but I have found that more can be saved in your food budget through good, simple meal planning. Cooking slow food for your family takes a little time but I’ve got a few tricks to help with your meals to plan, food to cook.
In upcoming posts, I’ll share with you our weekly meal plan. These won’t be long posts, just simple ones to give you ideas and to show you how I do it. I’ll also be adding recipes to Go Gingham that we regularly cook at our house. I just need to write them down.
As a weekly meal planner, here are my 3 biggest tips:
1. Plan ahead
Meal planning isn’t for big involved recipes, although it can be helpful with those. Meal planning is a time, money, and resource saver. Not having to run to the grocery store because we don’t have a plan really helps keep impulse grocery shopping purchases to a minimum. It also cuts down on purchases of processed food. Plan to eat your leftovers and you’ll have a night off in the kitchen.
2. Make a list and post it
This works for our family. We keep our meal plan front and center on the refrigerator. It’s a great reminder of what’s coming up, what needs to be taken out of the freezer, and what night kids are slated to cook a dinner. I meal plan on Sundays and then grocery shop according to my needs for the week. This helps keep food waste to a minimum.
3. Keep it simple
The food we eat for dinner is simple. We rarely go out to dinner at a restaurant so we’re cooking at home nightly. Without a microwave in our kitchen, I keep on top of what needs to be thawed ahead of time for the evening meal.
If you’re not a regular meal planner and you’re trying to add this to your weekly routine, try my download and get started. For every 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper, I get 4 weeks of meals. Print on the back side and you will, too. You can have it titled “Dinner Menu” or “Weekly Meal Plan” whichever you prefer.
If you’d like to try an on-line meal planning service (that is also available as a a mobile app) you’ll want to check out Food on the Table. They contacted me recently to invite Go Gingham readers to try their service and it’s free. It’s a meal planning website to help families plan, prepare, shop for, and cook meals at home. There are meal planning guides (with a quiz – gluten free? vegetarian?) to get you started as well as grocery lists you can use. Food on the Table also has a paid version. From their website:
Food on the Table is an online budget meal planning service designed to help families eat better and save money. We combine the weekly sales from your local grocery store with your family’s food preferences to create a family friendly meal plan based on kid-friendly recipes hand-picked by our chefs. Then, we send you to the store with a printable grocery list that can also be viewed on your smart phone.