So, you’ve decided that you’re going to take your week by the reigns and start planning. You’re staring at a blank calendar in front of you and are beginning to feel overwhelmed. What comes next? What will prevent you from throwing in the towel?
You may be so excited that you want to sit down and plan things out for a month. Fight the urge. If you’re just starting, planning for a week is really more feasible. Sit down with a blank sheet of paper and your calendar and consider some of the following.
Check Your Schedule
Look at your calendar. Do you have church on Wednesday nights? Football on Friday nights? Think ahead to what you can do for those days. Crock pot meals? Sandwiches? What type of meal can you do easily that won’t make you swing through the drive thru?
Use Sales Ads.
If one of your motivations for planning meals is money, then maybe you start with the grocery ads. You don’t even have to keep the newspaper ads anymore (do people even still get these?). Most grocery stores post their weekly ads online. If you want to go hardcore and use several ads to plan, more power to you, but I would suggest just starting with the one ad of the grocery store you visit the most. Look at what’s on sale that week — specifically meat and produce, then plan your week of meals around those things.
Check Your Pantry/Freezer
Looking to see what you already have on hand and can use in your cooking for the week is another thing that can help you save money when planning your meals. Plan around what you already have and can use up.
Two for One
Many times you can get two meals out of one thing. For example, you can make chopped beef for sloppy joes one night and then the next night use the leftover bbq meat in stuffed baked potatoes a night or two later. Or, you can grill chicken one night, and then chop up the leftovers to use in an assortment of casseroles and/or soups. Doing this, in my opinion, is the best way to use leftovers. I don’t know about you, but my family tends to turn their nose up at having leftovers when it means the same meal two nights in a row. But when it’s disguised as a completely new dish, they don’t seem to mind. Of course, this means that you need to buy enough of the meat to plan to have leftovers, or it won’t work. This also works for things that you only need a little bit of for a recipe, like celery or buttermilk. If I buy those things for a recipe, the part I don’t use usually just ends up going bad in the fridge. If you plan to cook using that ingredient at least twice, you have less food waste!
So, those are some general tips for getting started. We’ll go more in depth on this topic in the next few days, so hopefully by the end of the week, you’ll be feeling better equipped to sit down and plan some meals for your family!