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Meal Planning Tips & Tricks


Last week was awesome because we were on vacation and do you know what one of my most favorite things about vacation is?  Not having to do any cooking!  As much as I do enjoy it, it was so nice to have a full week in which I didn't have to think about grocery shopping, cooking and most of all, cleaning up.  We are back on schedule today though and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to share some of my favorite tips and tricks when it comes to everything dinner related.

To start, a little bit about our eating habits... in a typical week, we will eat at home 4-5 nights, eat out 1-2 nights and have one night devoted to eating up leftovers/randoms.   I like to start the week off fresh so I almost always go to the grocery store on Monday mornings since the store is typically dead.  I'm prefer to do all of my shopping at one place although we do make a monthly trip to Costco.

Another big thing for me is that I don't coupon at all.  I know many people have success with it but I find that when I used coupons, I was just buying things because they were on sale not because I would actually buy them in the first place.  It was just wasted money and food for us.  However, if something goes on sale that we eat all the time (like chicken breasts or strawberry jelly), I will be sure to stock up because I know it will actually be eaten. 

But my biggest piece of advice when it comes to that six o'clock struggle is how much easier weekly meal planning will make your life!  I sit down and spend about one hour every Sunday or Monday deciding what I want to eat that week, make a grocery list accordingly and then head out to the store.  I will admit that sometimes planning out your meals up to 7 days in advance can be a bit annoying, but after doing it for a full year now I've realized how much time and money it has saved me - not to mention the anxiety that comes from "what am I going to throw together for dinner tonight?"

Here are a few ideas to get you started with meal planning:

ONE | Set aside one day of the week that works best for you to do your meal planning and grocery shopping.  Going at the same time each week will help you only buy the food you actually need because you know when you'll be going back.  I buy just enough food to get me through the next Monday.

TWO | Try theme nights to get you started.  For example, every week plan on having a Mexican recipe on Monday, pasta on Tuesdays, etc. 

THREE | Check the weather forecast!  I know this sounds random but especially in the summer will it come in handy.  For example, if I want to grill out on Wednesday but it's supposed to rain, that probably isn't the best idea.

FOUR | Also check your schedule for the week to help you plan.  I have to work until 9 pm 1-2 nights a week so on those nights we either do something in the slow cooker or I plan to have leftovers.

FIVE | Record your meals in your planner.  I have an Erin Condren planner and in the "night" section, I always write what we are having for dinner.  This helps me not only to remember what we're having when that day rolls around but you can also flip back to previous weeks for ideas if you're ever stuck while meal planning.

SIX | I like to try one new recipe a week.  I get my recipes from Pinterest, websites like Kraft or Six Sisters, my favorite Gooseberry Patch cookbooks, and other blogger friends.  If you like to keep things old school, Costco is a great place to find lots of discounted cookbooks.

SEVEN | Make a grocery list!!  Don't waste all that time meal planning and then not write down exactly what you need.  A big thing that saves me time is writing my grocery list in order of how I go through the grocery store.  My first stop is always the produce, then the deli, then the bread section etc. all the way onto the frozen food.  I write my list in this exact order so I don't miss anything or have to waste time doubling back to grab something I forgot.

Here are a couple great printables via Pinterest to help make life easier:



I hope this helps!  Now if only I could figure out how to stop my husband from asking me 15 times a day what is for dinner... ;)  If you have any other meal planning suggestions, let me know!  And make sure to stop back tomorrow for my Florida trip recap!

31 comments

  1. Such a great post!! I'm a huge meal planner and we do our shopping on Sunday for the week!! You're totally right that it makes life so much easier during the week - and we are more likely to eat at home if we have the food -hate to waste!! I have been needed some new meal planners- thanks for sharing!!

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  2. wow, everything looks so delicious! i love food posts,
    great! thx for sharing!
    kiss
    Maren Anita

    FASHION-MEETS-ART by Maren Anita

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  3. fantastic post! thank you so much for sharing. i really want to get into meal planning, so this absolutely helped :)

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  4. Great post! Since I work night shift Theo has to fend for himself 3 nights of the week and thank god he does because he isn't the typical husband who will eat whatever I make and be happy. He's pretty picky although he says he isn't. I really only have to plan dinner for maybe 2 nights but it's still a battle sometimes.

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  5. I have to say this was very helpful..! I don't get home from work until 630pm and we are into running after I get out so I don't get back home until 730ish and then I feel like death and really not in the mood to cook.. Weekends we have Emily (future step daughter) and we are out and about with her, we usually end up eating out for dinner.. It's been hard getting into a rhythm.. But I need to try better..! This was very helpful..! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I hear you there! Maybe on some of those nights you can use your crockpot or plan for leftovers?? Another good idea might be cooking on the weekends and storing food in the freezer!

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  6. Great tips! My strategy is usually to just prep all the meats and veggies on the weekend - then I have some choice in preparation and flavor at night when deciding what I want! This will probably change when I become responsible for feeding someone other than myself!

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  7. love love love! I just got on this Meal Planning kick as well and have successfully planned out 4 weeks on a similar template. Our kitchen isn't ready hahaha but when it is I am so excited to jump right in!! Great tips!!

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  8. Great tips and charts! We've been trying to do meal planning too. It's nice not to think about what to eat each night, since its already planned out!

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  9. I definitely use these too, I sit down each week and plan out the next week and all our meals around the weather and what we'll be doing. I can't imagine not meal planning haha ;)

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  10. I love the monthly meal plan chart! I don't know what it is (laziness, probably), but I am not good at meal planning even though I know that it makes things way easier the weeks I actually have what I need to make a full week of meals! Speaking of food... how have you been doing with the no cheese for lent?!

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  11. Loving the chart, what a great idea! We try to eat at home as much as possible too, cutting back on just one meal out a week will save a crap ton of $$.... but sometimes it's nice to just not have to cook. I use coupons only when they're for something I'm buying anyway. I could not agree with you more that you end up buying stuff you don't need. I see the couponers loading up on a ton of stuff that no normal family will get through in a long period of time. It just seems like a waste to me. It must be the thrill of getting a ton of stuff for super cheap.

    So looking forward to your vacay recap :-D

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  12. I will be using all of these recipes! Thanks!

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  13. Oh those printables are so helpful!!! We have definitely had some nights where we stare at each other going "well what do you want? what do you want???" ugh so annoying! I think having a set idea is so much easier and helps not lead to unwarranted "discussions" especially when you're hungry!

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  14. I have been trying to "meal plan" better and it has made our life so much easier and definitely less stressful. I love coming home to all my ingredients and knowing exactly what I am going to make!

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  15. So, this post couldn't have come at a better time. I want to start meal planning, but I just didn't know where or how to start - this is extremely helpful!

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  16. My life starts to be crazier tomorrow so meal planning is going to be weird for us. Its going to be an adjustment but we'll see what happens. I may need to try those tacos though!

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  17. This post is AMAZING!!! Thank you doll!! Need to look back at this to plan. Xx.

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  18. I totally meal plan in my planner too! However I am an everyday grocery shopper and I have about three speedsters stores I go to. I should really work on this to become a bit more efficient! Love your meal ideas!

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  19. I try to meal plan, but it's definitely tough! I use my planner sometimes but these printables are cute too! Such great ideas!
    xo

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  20. Okay, now I'm starving! Thanks for these tips and tricks!

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  21. These printables are so great - I will definitely be using them! Meal planning is so worth it time wise and financially!

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  22. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)

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  23. Great idea to write it in the planner. Haven't thought of that one but getting back to planning our meals is one of my April goals.

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  24. Comfort foods are perfect for Sundays! I love pot pies!

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  25. What a great post with great tips & tricks!!! I've been meal planning for YEARS but still feel like I can learn a thing or two! I love that grocery list printable....thanks for sharing!!

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  26. I love adding a new dish each week too. That BBQ pizza and the tacos look so good. Meal planning is a must.

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  27. You're making me so hungry. Everything looks so good! I def need to meal plan bc figuring it out last minute just isn't practical.

    Thanks for linking up for MMG :)

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  28. I need to start doing this...I'm the girl who is driving home from work with my stomach growling trying to figure out what to eat. I know I can do this! And I still need to make that soup recipe - looks so good!

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