If someone asked you if you would like to save money, time, and stress, you’d most likely say yes,right? Eating is a fact of life: we gotta do it people!! And if we have a family too….well that is more tummies to be responsible for. It can get quite overwhelming when you reach the 5:00 hour and you’re tired and hungry and have no idea what to do for dinner (cue crazy kid noise in the background like at my house, above). Some people will hit the restaurants, some will hit the deli, and still more will go get a few groceries at the craziest grocery store hour all day: dinner time! It’s no secret that going into a grocery store hungry means you are buying more things that look good as opposed to what you’ll need = time and money wasted. It’s also no secret that by the time you get home, you wanted dinner yesterday, and you have yet to even prepare anything…yuck! A simple solution that works for many people is: menu planning. Here’s a step by step process to help you save money, time, and stress around the mealtimes in you life.
- Gather a calendar and a piece of paper for a grocery list. (I use one of the free calendars I get every year, pictured at right).
- Make a grocery list. My list has the items grouped in the order I hit them in my favorite store (see below). This way, I move through the store seamlessly, without wasted time zigzagging all over the place. I feel crazy enough shopping with all three kids in tow, I don’t need more craziness! My geographic areas (based where I would find the items): produce, dairy, misc/meat, box/can, bulk, deli. Amy over at Simply Sugar & Gluten Free has a free printable grocery list that is free and works with the same idea!
- Pick some recipes/meals using your favorite blog(s), favorite cookbooks, your standbys, etc. When you select a recipe, write it down on the calendar, and write down any lacking ingredients on your grocery list. I usually plan 5-8 meals at a time. You could do more.
- Hit the grocery store armed with your list and stick to it!
|I use recycled paper to copy these – this is not fancy!|
Daily, before you leave for work, or at lunch time, or……(pick a time that works for you!) refer to the calendar, decide what’s for dinner. Remove anything from the freezer to thaw.
Now you know that when you start to cook, all your ingredients are available to you without any last minute trips to the grocery store. You also know what’s in your food as YOU are preparing it and control all the goodness that goes into it (feels good to be king/queen)! Goodbye processed convenience foods!
Notice the decidedly not-fancy calendar I use, stuck to some cork board I adhered to an invisible side of my cupboards (let’s face it, this calendar is not something I want in sight line, aesthetically of course!).
Try menu planning for a week or two and see if it does not help improve your mealtime sanity! Let me know if you need any tweaking ideas for your special circumstances.