Meal Planning 101

We have now been meal planning for more than six years!  I have to admit we have been a bit relaxed about meal planning during the holidays (read too relaxed to do much of anything!) but we are now gearing up to get back on track.  We have had more time during the holidays to think about our meals and shop at the last minute but we have noticed our grocery bill skyrocket!  I mean triple the amount we usually spend!!!

My very used, highlighted and scribbled on meal plan.

So now my tips for meal planning.  I know I have published them before but due to the number of requests here they are AGAIN!!!

1. 7 Days of Creation.  For us it is a strictly 7 day plan.  I can’t think that far ahead and grocery shopping with two children in tow means that a weeks worth of groceries already takes us two hours!

2. Don’t just think dinners.  I try and plan it so that Wednesday’s and Thursday’s dinner meals are left over worthy so that I can take them for lunch the following day.  This has meant we are saving a further $10-15 a week on lunches!

3.  Kids Menu.  I try to plan meals that are easy for children to eat or can easily be altered, it saves cooking two different dinners!

4.  Sunday well Spent.  Our usually plan our meals and do the grocery shopping on Sunday’s.  I then spend Sunday afternoon doing any meal prep I can including making a weeks worth of lunches for both myself and the kids!

5.  Shop around.  Ok so it is not as convenient BUT…we have Aldi, Woolworths, Coles and a Dollar Store at our local shopping centre.  After a month of shopping I know which products are cheaper at each store! I generally start at Aldi, then head to Woolworths/Coles.  I can’t rave about Aldi enough, my only grips is sometimes I love a product so much only to see it dissappear from shelves and never appear again!

6. Do not shop without your plan and list.We have all read about how much extra money you spend when you shop without a list.  Now times that saving by two for a plan and a list!  When you have a plan you only buy what is on the plan.  No vegetables rotting in the bottom of the fridge because you bought them without a purpose!

NOW HERE IS A BIG ONE. We have developed a Monthly Plan for household shopping.  We were living with a horrible cycle of everything running out at once! Toilet paper, cleaning products, toiletries it would be a huge budget blowout, we would stock up again to face a month later that everything had run out at the same time…AGAIN!  so…..on my meal plan and shopping List printable you will notice a lack of “BIG” items.  It works like this….. Each month is divided into 4 weeks.  Each week we have a designated “Monthly Items Shop” This way we can also save money by buying in bulk and never run out of the necessities like toilet paper!

Monthly Items -Week 1 – Toiletries – Toilet Paper, Shampoo & Conditioner, Soap, Baby Bath, Tissues, Hair Colour, Personal Care etc
Week 2 – Cleaning – Dishwashing liquid and tablets, Spray and Wipe, Sponges, Air Freshener, Blue Loo
Week 3 – Household – Washing powder, batteries, lightbulbs, fly spray, stationery,
Week 4 – Kitchen – Glad Wrap, Paper Towel, Serviettes, Alfoil, Snap lock bags, Sugar, Flour etc The key to making the monthly shop work is really thinking ahead.  After 1 month of sticking to it you get an idea of exactly what quantities of each item you require to last the month. So where do you keep all of these plans and lists? I have created our very own meal plan and shopping list.

Here is mine for the week.  I use the spaces on the left to fill out what is for lunch AND dinner each day.  In a few weeks we will be back into the school and work lunches routine.  We are preparing now by thinking about how we can best use our grocery shopping and dinners to also to provide lunches.  

The next space is a place to write down the shopping items needed for that particular meal.  The final column is our weekly shopping list, with a little space down the bottom for other shopping, this week its a storage container and contact.

For us meal planning has saved us time, money and sanity.  But it’s more about what it gives me.  The satisfaction knowing my family are eating healthy meals, I feel organised and on top of things, well the meals at least!!!

Do you meal plan?  Would you like to try?


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