Are you on the struggle bus when it comes to meal planning? Here, I’ll share how to meal plan in just 3 easy steps…free printables included!
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Hi friends! I wanted to get back to the basics a little bit this week and talk about meal planning. If you’ve been with me since the beginning, you know this is a huge part of what I used to share, and it’s still a topic I get questioned about alot.
Since I am a SAHM and we operate on one income, I try to be very intentional and mindful when I meal plan. I’ve learned a few things over the past few years that help me keep my grocery costs low while having more than enough food to feed my little fam each week.
In this post I’m going to be talking more about the process of how to meal plan (while still highlighting how to use that to keep your costs low) and providing you with some free worksheets to help you, but if you want to take a glimpse of some specific ways I save money at the grocery store, you can check out my very first blog post ever: How I Feed a Family of 3 for Around $300/Month.
Also: if you follow me on Instagram, then you already got access to this content last month! If you don’t follow me, please do! Most of my printables, DIYs, and more hit Instagram first before I ever get around to writing up a blog post! I am on Instagram stories almost daily, usually spouting off little tidbits of things that don’t warrant an entire blog post….so come follow along so you don’t miss out!
How to Meal Plan in 3 Easy Steps
Before I start, I just want to emphasize that this is what works for me right now. Because I’m home all day, I have more time to be in the kitchen…and I know that’s not true for everyone. If anything, I hope this process will at least give you some ideas that you can tweak and make work for your fam! 😊
Step 1: Recon
Ok, so I’m calling step 1 “recon” because I’m pretending it’s something else than “research”…which is step 2. 😄 But basically you want to just take a look at your family’s schedule for the upcoming week and just jot a few notes down.
I feel like this is sometimes a step that is rushed or isn’t even considered. We see that there are 7 days in a week, we obviously need to eat every night, so we go nuts trying to find 7 recipes for the upcoming week.
NO. It does not have to be like that. If you take the time to look at your schedule, you can make dinnertime work for you. I’ll give you some examples below:
Example 1: Wednesday night your son has soccer practice, and y’all won’t be getting home until late. Plan a big meal for Tuesday night so you can have leftovers on Wednesday.
Example 2: Thursday you have a busy afternoon of running errands and won’t be home until around 6pm. Plan for a Crockpot meal that night, and turn it on before you leave for your errands.
Example 3: Saturday night you make a roast, and you know there will be leftovers. Plan to use that leftover meat for quesadillas, tacos, pizza, etc for Sunday.
Knowing what you have going on during the week can help you plan how many and what kinds of meals you’ll make!
Step 2: Research
Step 2 of how to meal involves two….substeps? We’ll call them 2a and 2b:
2a: Check out your local grocery store ads to see if there are any sales you can plan some meals around. I love using the Flipp app, which has tons of digital store ads at your finger tips!
Then shop your kitchen and take inventory of what you already have that can be used for your meals. Check your pantry, freezer, and fridge to see if there’s something you can use. If you’ve got 4 boxes of pasta chilling in your pantry, mayyyyyyyybe make something with pasta….right?
I’ve got a lovely space for you to jot all of these items down in my free meal planning worksheets.
2b: Now that you’ve shopped your kitchen and taken note of a few sale items, now it’s time to actually look for recipes you can incorporate those ingredients into. Check Pinterest, cookbooks, family faves, etc.
You don’t have to use everything you wrote down; it’s just something to give you a starting point when you’re looking at recipes.
Step 3: Plan
Step 3 basically just combines step 1 (look at your schedule to determine with kinds of meals) and step 2 (be resourceful and then find recipes) and allows you to organize your recipe ideas in a way that works with your family’s schedule.
You can also use this space to jot down a few easy breakfast, lunch, and snack ideas. I typically don’t spend alot of money on these meals because I tend to choose foods that will go a long way. You can find those foods and meal ideas on my “tips and tricks” page of these free worksheets!
Since this page in my free printables is more worksheet-style, I’ve also included a “prettier” weekly meal plan copy where you can write down all your meals for the week.
Bonus: Tips and Tricks!
As a bonus, in these printables, I’ve also included my top 9 tips and tricks to stay on budget when meal planning! Included are my go-to “cheap” staples for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, how to cut out 1-2 nights of cooking, my favorite breakfast prep ideas, and more!
Also: for my favorite kitchen gadgets that make cooking a breeze, check out my list on Amazon or “shop the post” at the end of this post!
Click below to get your free meal planning worksheets now!