Saturday, July 30, 2011

Meal Planning 2011

Way back in March 2010, I covered the basics of how I do our monthly meal planning. While most of it still applies, there are some updates I wanted to share in case you were wanting to start this task in your own home. The steps are still the same (I'll explain those again here), but because we are couponing as much as possible now, I don't just do one giant grocery run at the beginning of the month now. If you're not a couponer, this is still a great method. But couponing means I need to watch the sales and coupon match-ups to make sure we are getting the best deals on our purchases, dry goods especially. So, I do still make the meal plan and shopping lists at the beginning of the month (or end of the previous month), but I plan my shopping based on the sale cycles, too. Confused? Sorry! Hope this next part helps!

How to plan your meals monthly:

  1. Make a list of all the meals you normally cook, family favorites, and new recipes you want to try.
  2. Print out a blank calendar for the whole month and grab a pencil & eraser.
  3. Fill in all the days you will be out of town, have dinner plans elsewhere, or have other obligations.
  4. Look at your family calendar and find the days that are super scheduled or busy, put an asterisk on your meal calendar on those days, so you can plan accordingly to cook something simple.
  5. Now, take your list of meals and your calendar and start filling in the blanks. Try to plan meals that have common ingredients for the same week. For example, make enchiladas and fajitas the same week so you can use up the sour cream, tortillas, avocados, tomatoes, etc.
  6. When you know a meal normally yields tons of leftovers (common in our household of 2), write in leftovers for the day following.
  7. As you work, you will find meals you want to rearrange (that's why we work in pencil). Once you have it all set, you can leave it as is or type it up so it's neater. I used to do that, but eh, I've slacked on the prettiness :)

Now that you have your meals planned, you can plan for what groceries you will need for the month. I have master grocery, Costco, and Target/drug store lists typed up and printed out in my household binder (more on that in the next post). I go through my menu, my pantry, my fridge, and my backstocks and figure out what I have and what I will need.

Once you have a list of the groceries you'll need and you know when in the month you will need them, you can track the sale & coupon match-ups and further plan each shopping trip. I generally try to get all my dry goods on that first shopping trip, but I will wait for some things to get a better price.

So that's it, that is all you need to do. It may seem like a lot, but it has made our weekly living a lot easier. And on the occasions that I feel like having Thursday's meal on Monday, I can. I will already have the ingredients because of my shopping planning, so I can switch them if I want to. That's the nice, flexible part of the planning!

Questions? You're always free to comment here, on FB, or email me - my(dot)domestic(dot)adventures{at}gmail(dot)com

1 comment:

  1. this little bit of work really makes dinner SO MUCH EASIER every night. And now that hubby goes back to days next week- I will have to start cooking everyday again!


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