Best Meal Planning Tips to Make you a Pro Day 5 – Stay Sane
If you are not a natural planner meal planning can seem frustrating which may cause you to give up. Keep in mind, meal planning doesn’t have to be hard and you can reuse recipes to save time. Try cooking the same meal plan for two weeks and double it for a month’s worth of meals. After you get the hang of it, add a few new recipes to your repertoire.
Meal planning is meant to help you save time and money but the first few hours of creating your plan and shopping may seem daunting, you will be glad the rest of the month because you will be on top of things and you will not have to worry about what’s for dinner or if you have the right ingredients on hand.
Check out the rest of the series:
Intro – Day 1
Plan your Frequency – Day 2
Budgeting for Food – Day 3
Prepping and Shopping – Day 4
Here are some ideas to keep you sane during the process:
- Use your resources – There are many meal plans available online so don’t reinvent the wheel. use other’s meal plans (like mine) until you are ready to do your own.
- $5 Meal Plan – This is a service that will send meal plans to you and cater to your diet and budget needs (paleo, gluten-free, etc.) Sing up for a 14-day free trial here: $5 Meal Plan
- Be flexible – Have some freezer meals ready for when you don’t feel like cooking and remember you can trade out meals if you don’t have a taste for something on a particular evening.
- Have fun with it – Try adding a new recipe every month. Let your kids pick out something from the pictures on Pinterest so they will actually eat. Make it a big deal that you are making their meal that night.
- Keep going – It is easy to give up and start ordering take-out or going out to eat again, but if you are trying to stick to a budget, meal planning IS your friend. Treat yourself once in a while so you do not feel deprived. Use my 10 Outstanding Ways to Save On Dining Out to stick to your budget.
- Plan your Meals to fit your life – When my son started three-year-old preschool, he missed me and wanted my full attention when he came home which was right around dinner time. On those days, I would make sure I had something in the crockpot already cooking. Plan your meals according to your schedule. It wouldn’t have worked if I had some elaborate meal to make on those days. Also, add Holidays and other events on your plan.
- Stay Organized – Keep your recipes organized and save links you have found to be helpful in a “word” or “notes” document on your computer. Also, create a Pinterest board with your favorite recipes.
- Be Healthy – Try to skip processed or pre-packaged meals but do keep some emergency meals on hand that are quick and easy to make. We like fish sticks from Costco or Marie Calendar frozen lasagna.
- Make recipes for the family – Include recipes your family loves. One of the main reasons people order take-out is because there is nothing in the house they want to eat. I always include homemade pizza on my meal plan and freeze the extra dough for the next round.
Uses a Theme to Simplify your Meal Planning
Monday – Beef
Tuesday – Taco Tuesday
Wednesday – Fish
Thursday – Chicken
Friday – Vegetarian
Saturday – Beef
Sunday – Pizza or Fish
Best Budget Meal Planning Tips to Make You a Pro conclusion:
Meal Planning will to save you time and money and keep your sanity! It is hard to cook when you have “hangry” kids and there is no plan! It is best to plan, have your ingredients on-hand, and have a happy home! Make sure to create a food budget you can live with while also saving money. Use coupons and Ibotta and shop sales cycles to stock up on items you use often. Prep your food at the beginning of the week so it is ready to go and freeze items you are not going to use right away so you do not waste food. Stay disciplined while shopping and use your list! Try not to throw unneeded items in the cart. Try meal planning for an entire month and see how you like it! You will only stick with it if you find a meal plan that works for you and your family! You CAN do it!
Please leave me a comment if you have any questions or would like to share any meal planning tips or ideas that we would all find helpful!
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Thank you for following along with my meal planning tips series!
Take care – Sarah
Here is a quick link to all of my Meal Plans on the blog:
Budget-Friendly Meal Planning
Two-Week Budget-Friendly Dinner Meal Plan – Under $75
How to Create a $40 Meal Plan Your Family Will Love
How to do a Weeks Worth of Summer Meals that Rock
14 Effortless Fall Budget Meals That Will Make Your Family Smile
7 Lies You’ve Heard About Meal Planning and How to Start