Friday, January 17, 2014

Weekly Meal Planning Benefits (and Tips!)

When the hubby and I first started living together, we went grocery shopping every week. We would check the ads every Sunday and head out to get whatever stuff we saw or whatever was on sale. It was stressful, mainly because I hate making decisions, and I was making them every night on what we were going to eat. And, to make matters worse, we didn't plan ahead so whenever we found a recipe we wanted to try we would have to run to the store for "a few things".

We all do dumb things when we're first starting out, right? I'm sure there are worse stories out there.

Add some kiddos into that hectic mix, and I can see why some women just go crazy after awhile. I'm looking forward to it.

Then one day I came across a brilliant idea...planning meals one week at a time. Thank God for the internet!

Talk about an improvement...we would look at the ads, come up with a week's worth of meals based on what meats were on sale (since they're always the most expensive items), and then go shopping. It's proven to be a great money, time, and sanity saver! I would 100% suggest you try it. It has been a positive change for us for sure.

Check out some benefits and tips of weekly menu planning, all from personal experience. Feel free to comment below with any tips or experiences of your own!

5 Benefits of Weekly Menu Planning:
1. It Saves you Time: Running to the store every time you need a handful of ingredients can get pretty tiring and flat out annoying.
2. It Saves you Money: Planning your meals out based on what's on sale is a super easy way to save a few dollars each month on groceries.
3. It Helps you not Buy "Impulse Items": the fewer times you're walking past the cookies on display or whatever else catches your eye on your way through the store, the less opportunities you have to give in and buy them.
4. Less Stress: It's pretty easy to see that already knowing what you need to make each day that week and already having all the ingredients can cut down on a ton of stress.
5. Better Food: When you put time, effort, and planning into your meals, the results will show with tastier, heartier foods that will leave your family much more satisfied than take out or prepackaged foods.

5 Tips for Weekly Menu Planning:
1. Keep it Simple, Silly: If you pick 5 hard or new recipes to try in one week, you're going to get to Wednesday and wonder what the heck you were thinking, and possibly cry. Don't do that. Throw in one or two easier meals to help keep your sanity in tact and still have delicious meals.
2. Save Receipts: If you're on a tighter budget, it can really help when starting out to save your receipts to see how much of an item you'd buy, and what the prices are. After awhile you'll be able to see a sale price at the store and already know if it's good or not.
3. Buy Ingredients that Can be Used in Multiple Recipes: The more diverse your groceries, the more you can stretch your imagination, dollar, and taste buds at the same time.
4. Put Up the Menu Where Everyone can See It: True, you can keep the list on your phone or computer, but then every time your family wants to know what's on it they'll come to you. It's much easier to have a cute picture frame with a dry erase marker, a list on the fridge, a chalkboard, etc up so it's clear to everyone in the house what's on the menu and when.
5. Compile a List of Favorites: Tried a recipe you really liked, but can't remember where you found it? Keeping a list of recipes you enjoyed (and didn't!) can help future meal-planning go more quickly, as you'll already have a database built up from personal experience. There are a million ways to do this, from pinterest to bookmarks, printing them out, or writing them down. Come up with your own unique way to keep a record of the foods you love!

Coming soon:
I'll be talking about our shift from once a week meal planning to once a month meal planning, and how/why we're making the switch. I'm really excited about it, and can't wait to share it with you!

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