Be Serious: Meal Planning

I know those two words together can seriously scare some people.  I promise, though, the way I meal plan is super easy.

Suuuuuper easy.

First of all, before I started planning meals, I would end up either making several trips to the grocery store each week or wasting a lot of food.  Or both.

Planning meals has helped me to save time, effort, and money in the kitchen, and it only takes me about 30-45 minutes every week or two.

First, I have a general idea of what I will be cooking each day.  Take a look:

Monday – Grill or Roast meat and simple sides

Tuesday – Date Night

Wednesday – Italian food

Thursday – Soup/Salad

Friday – Mexican/Spanish food

Saturday – leftovers/sandwiches

Sunday – casserole or other “nice” recipe

Having this general outline helps me to pick meals on specific days.  So, for example, on when I’m planning a meal for Monday, if the weather looks nice, I can pick something like marinated chicken kebobs with grilled fruit and salad.  If, however, weather looks poor, I can roast that chicken in the oven with potatoes, carrots, and still have a salad.

I usually plan meals for a full week, sometimes two, before I plan my grocery shopping adventure.

I tend to stick to one meat per week.  We may eat meat 2-3 times a week, but I will use the same kind of meat (chicken or beef or pork, you get the idea) so I can buy just one large package.

I usually have some leftover if I buy a big package of meat at Sam’s; then I can store it in our freezer and have it for a proverbial “rainy day”.

I also try to stick with seasonal fruits and vegetables.  I cook asparagus and peas in the spring, zucchini and eggplant in the summer, and butternut squash and sweet potatoes in the fall.  This helps me to choose which recipes I use.

I am one of those cooks that could go with or without a written recipe.  Some things I just make from memory, like a roast chicken and vegetables.  I have weeks where I fill my meal plan up with things that are go-to’s for me.  Other weeks I pore over Pinterest to find new, fun recipes to bring some spunk in to the kitchen.

Once I fill in a dinner for each day, I make a list of the ingredients I need.  This handy thing is what I call my grocery list.

Seriously.  It’s that easy.

Our breakfasts and lunches around here pretty much stick within a normal realm.  Breakfasts are usually cereal, oatmeal, yogurt and granola, eggs and toast, or pancakes.  And lots of fruit.  Lunches are usually sandwiches, salad, or leftover things like soups, chilis, pastas, etc.  If I need to restock any of these items, they go on my grocery list.

I promise you, that taking the short amount of time to focus on what you will be eating for the week will help you to shave down your grocery bill, reduce the waste coming out of your kitchen, and save a whole lot of hassle.

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