Even before twins, I relied on a weekly dinner menu to help keep evening meal prep a smooth-running, stress free process. It was an idea I got from a coworker, who planned out her evening meals ahead of time and did all her shopping in one day over the weekend. This works really well for families of picky eaters or with diet restrictions. When you are running kids from daycare, to and from practice, and squeezing in homework and nursing, you really have to know ahead of time what will be on the dinner table.
Before babies I used to also plan out my personal meals for the week-breakfast, snack, and lunch. This helped me to stay on track with my weight loss and fitness goals.
Here’s how I do my meal planning:
- On Sunday I start by going over the coupon section of the local paper and the local grocery ads. I look for what is on special and go from there when choosing my meals. Occasionally I just choose meals that I would enjoy cooking, but not often. Most of the time I choose meals based on what we can get cheaply and what we have on hand already.
- I look at the calendar of events that the family has for the week. Is hubby going to be out of town one night? If so, I can make a smaller (maybe even vegetarian!) meal while he’s gone. Does my big boy have a practice one night? Do I have a committee meeting after work? I’m going to want to either have a crock pot meal, leftovers, or a quick and easy dinner for these days.
- All that’s left is to find the meals and write the ingredients into my grocery list. I keep all my meal plans in a binder, so sometimes I look back through and use the meals that turned out well or that the guys really enjoyed.
- I try not to have to go to more than two stores. I live in a small town. Since we only shop once a week, we drive about 20 minutes to a discount price store, Winco (located in some areas of western states). We definitely save money by driving a little farther because our in-town grocery stores are much more expensive. Alternatively, you could see if the local Food 4 Less or Aldi’s suit your needs.
That’s it! It doesn’t really take long, and it saves a bunch of time and money in the long run. Do you do a weekly meal plan? Share in the comments!