Simplifying Life through Meal Planning

I must say that I wasn’t always a meal planner, and I still have my weeks where I do not practice this discipline – and those weeks I always do feel a little more stressed out during the day as I think about what I am going to make for dinner and if I have the correct ingredients to pull it off.

The way that I do meal planning is pretty simple, and it allows me to take advantage of certain sale items at the store, as well as save multiple trips to the store to pick up that “must-have” ingredient for  a recipe that I wouldn’t regularly buy.

So this is what I do: I look through the sale flyers for all of the local grocery stores and mark down those groceries that I will buy because we use them, and they are priced right. As noted in another blog, I price match. This means that my grocery list is quite detailed as it lists the store, and the page number where we can find the sale item quickly at checkout. Next, I look at our “Meals we Like” list which includes our favorite meals that we regularly eat and I decide what we are going to eat for the week, and then I fill in the missing ingredients for those meals that aren’t yet on the grocery list. This ensures that I will have everything I need for seven meals throughout the week, and I can anticipate each day what I need to do to prepare the meal for the day without any stress. Sometimes I pre-chop all of my veggies earlier in the day, other times I will put everything in the slow cooker in the morning and turn it on, and other days I will simply remove any frozen items from the freezer to ensure that they are ready for the night’s meal.

meals we like - a list

Some other benefits of meal planning:

-I try new recipes more often. When I’m making a meal plan for the week I very often will throw a new recipe in there that I have yet to try from one of my favorite cookbooks. For me, this makes cooking fun and keeps things from getting too predictable. Also, I think that it is good for my kids to be pushed out of their comfort zones to try new things. I will not have any picky eaters!

-I can look at our calendar for the week and strategically pick meals that fit in our schedule. This makes the week run a lot more smoothly.

-I can involve the kids! They often help me pick a couple of meals for the week, and they eagerly look forward to these meals. Sometimes we all write our own lists (the older two girls and I) and this helps the girls to practise sounding out words and writing their letters. I suppose that it also teaches them how to be organized in this area of running a household.

-It saves money. When I thoughtfully plan our menu I use less convenience items, more sale items, and I do more cooking from scratch and this saves money! (Okay, I almost always cook from scratch anyway BUT about once a week if I don’t have a menu I am at a loss for what to make and we go buy something that’s convenient in a pinch.)

There you have it, that is how I simplify life through meal planning. Do you meal plan? Do you have a different strategy? I would love to hear it!

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