Meal Planning 101

Do you plan your meals each day? Week? Month?

Are there tips that have saved your sanity when it comes to grocery shopping, meal planning, and prepping?

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If so, I want to know your secrets!

After doing Weight Watchers for over 6 years, I became pretty good at planning meals for the week and putting a grocery list together. But there is always room for improvement, and I know I’m always looking for new tips and tricks to save time and money.

The tricks that have stuck with me over the years?

  • Make a grocery list and stick to it. Sure, impulse buys happen sometimes, but for the most part, I stick to my list. I also write notes beside items when I have coupons to use (so I won’t forget at the store) and have my meal plan for the week on the back of my grocery list so I can refer to it while I’m shopping.
  • Buy in season. Whether you’re shopping at your local farmer’s market or grocery store, buying produce in season will save you a ton of money. Fruits and veggies are always cheaper during their typical growing season – plus, they’re better and more flavorful, too. I don’t buy fresh peaches in January or asparagus in October. It’s just not their time and I’ve learned my lesson.
  • Check out the weekly sale sheets. Grocery specials rotate on a 4-6 week basis, so when frozen veggies or canned tomatoes are on super sale, I buy a few extra bags or cans. Same with everything else, when I can. If you buy a few more when they’re on sale, you won’t have to buy them on the weeks that they’re full price – plus, if you can buy them on sale AND when you have a coupon? That’s just fun.
  • Plan a few recipes that use the same ingredients. If I’ve found a new recipe to try and it calls for a more exotic ingredient or one I don’t already have at home, I try to find another recipe that uses the same ingredient. That means fewer things to buy (overall) because I’m utilizing the new ingredient for more than one meal that week.
  • Prep on weekends. I go through phases with this one. I’ll do great with this one for months and then get off track because of travel or plans or whatever, but it’s a great place to start. Doing easy things like chopping veggies over the weekend or cutting up fruit to have throughout the week can save so much time. When I have time, I also like to make a dish to have for lunch throughout the week or cook up a batch of whole grains.

If you have tips or tricks you use to save money / time  for grocery shopping or meal planning and prep, let’s hear ‘em!

I want to see how many new tips we can get in the comments!

 

Help Holly  + me raise money for Jovenes en Camino, an orphanage in Honduras for abused, homeless and orphaned children. Tis’ the season for  giving – we hope you’ll join us in this challenge.

8 comments

  1. This is nearly identical to what we do too! We always plan ahead, stick to our list (for the most part) and prep on the weekends. I make about 3 dinners/lunches ahead of time on the weekends, then leave 1-2 days open for something we may be craving mid-week!

  2. As far as the actual shopping goes, I swear by produce stands. I can get an entire week’s worth of fruits and veggies for $10 or less (although that is only for one person). I stock up on BOGO sales too…Publix had veggie broth on sale the week of Thanksgiving so I grabbed a handful.

  3. i plan dinners, and i’ve found planning weekend breakfasts helps too-saves you from sunday morning runs to the store for eggs and such….
    and i plan ahead for days where i know i won’t want to cook and make things the day before for that night. saves us from getting takeout!

  4. I follow very similar strategies except that I rarely if ever read the sales flyers. That’s only because I feel like most of what I buy (fruits, veggies, etc.) never goes on sale. I’ve also in recent years been organizing my shopping around the farmers’ market, which of course cuts into that. However I do always do my planning on one day and plan out for the week thinking about what nights I will actually be home and what nights I will be out. If I know I will be gone a lot I try to pick things where I can freeze the leftovers if I cannot get to them.

    My other trick, buy in bulk bins whenever possible. For things like grains and flours it’s much cheaper making it easy to stock up on things I use often and just buy a little for things I use less frequently.

  5. I used to meal plan like it was a second job. Now that we live with my parents for awhile, I haven’t been planning at all. It’s kind of a nice break but then I do miss to have the organization. I know when I a mom I will be planning out dinner every single night.

  6. All great tips I use! I too go through phases of being good about prepping for the week, and lately i’ve been on a slump. Another tip I do it makes planned left overs that I can recreate into a new meal the next day… Like roast extra chicken for a simple salad the next day or homemade pizza. When I can knock out the work once instead of twice I love it.

  7. I don’t have any additional tips to add – I start with my sale paper first and build my menu off of that.

    And since my husband never eats leftovers, I usually morph a dinner into my work lunch – seems to work – my average grocery bill for our family of 3 is around $80 – not too bad!

    Happy Friday!

  8. Great tips! My Mom and I always plan out our meals on the weekend!

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