Are you tired of not having dinner figured out every night at 5:00 pm? Mealtimes don’t have to be a frustrating part of the day anymore because you’re getting ready to be armed with a mealtime plan made for real life! One that’s super simple and doesn’t require you to learn new skills or buy expensive meal plans.
This is the simple plan I use for my own family’s meals. A plan I created out of my own desperation.
It’s not that I didn’t enjoy cooking for my family but I never made it a priority to sit down and make a plan. So every single day the dinner bell rang and I ran to the kitchen to figure out what to make. Yeah, I know this was a set up for disaster every night.
Out of my frustration and desperation, I decided I needed to finally make a change. And no, I didn’t run out and buy any meal plans, fancy subscription meal boxes, or shopping list apps.
I did it the old-fashioned way… for free. And it worked! Sure, you can add all of the above-mentioned helpers, but first, you need a real plan. Then you can add all the bells and whistles later to make it even easier.
PLANNING YOUR MEALS
The first step in the process is to make a list of all the meals you and your family like to eat. Go ahead and make a separate list for breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals. You can add a snack list if you like too.
If you’re lacking inspiration, check out my Family Meals board on Pinterest. It’s FULL of meal ideas in over 10 meal categories. Create your own Family Meals board and pin the ones you want to try to your own board for reference later.
Now you can meal plan one of two ways. The first is to stick mostly to your family’s favorites and create a rotating schedule. Think Taco Tuesdays. This method is great because obviously your family loves those recipes and you’re already familiar with how to cook them. So everyone’s happy.
The second method is what I call the Money-Saving Meal Plan and that works by looking at what’s on sale in your local store’s circular. And then creating meals around those food items. If you’re focusing on savings, I would keep my eye on the meats that are on sale that week.
This will give you the biggest bang for your buck and it also keeps your menu simple. For example, if chicken is on sale this week, you can just write in your family’s favorite chicken recipes that week. If beef is on sale, use your beef recipes.
MAKE YOUR SHOPPING LIST
Whichever method or combination of methods you use, the emphasis is on writing your meals down for the week (or month) and having a plan. This way you can create a shopping list and go to the grocery store to buy exactly what you came for and nothing more.
This is another HUGE money-saving tip!
Your list doesn’t need to be done on a fancy app or other online program. You can simply use a piece of paper. If you’re not accustomed to making lists, keep your process as simple as possible and get more sophisticated as you go.
And if you’re into saving money at the grocery store try using many of the smartphone apps that are totally FREE to use and actually give you cash back when you buy your groceries. Total win!
Check out my post with the best apps to use here:
PREP YOUR MEALS
Let me be totally upfront with you here. I don’t stick to a religious meal-prepping schedule every month. My life and daily schedule changes a lot and sometimes I cook each night and other month’s I prep my meals in advance.
Let me also say, that meal-prepping takes discipline and sacrifice but is SOOO worth it when you take the time to do it.
There are a few HUGE benefits to meal-prepping:
- You’ll save money because you’re not buying foods that you’ll forget to use and go bad in your fridge. I think I’ve probably thrown away thousands in spoiled foods over the years. So sad.
- You’ll be healthier because most of us “plan” to cook and eat healthy foods and then crazy-town comes rolling in and we forfeit that healthy dinner we had in mind to cook and go through the drive-through instead. Having your meals already done helps to greatly resist temptation!
- It’s less stressful overall. Yes, I know you are doing all that prepping in advance. But prepping several meals at once is really so much easier than cooking each meal one by one, every single day. Think about why processed food and drive-throughs are so attractive. It’s convenient. Well, so is popping your healthy pre-prepped delicious dinner into the oven when you walk in the door after a long day. It’s divine!