Food costs are one of your most flexible expenses. These meal planning tips can help you save money, eat healthfully, and enjoy great meals. Learn how to menu plan, plus get free menu printable sheets to help.
Meal prepping and menu planning is one way to keep your family’s food budget in check. Not only is cost-effective but it can be a huge timesaver.
When you have a weekly menu, some pretty amazing things happen. The dinner time stress that hits us in the face like clockwork no longer happens. You don’t freak out when your kids ask what’s for dinner, you now will officially know. And this will happen every single DAY!
Funny how a simple meal plan can change life for the better. No more panic-stricken moments about feeding the family, no more rush home to cook up something delicious, no more last-minute dinner outs. I’ve been there more times than my strained budget cares to admit.
Choosing a meal plan (and sticking with it) guarantees you will have the ingredients on hand when you need them.
Before we begin;
Keep in mind, there really is no right or wrong way to plan If you start out with one menu planning system and after a few weeks you will find that is not going to work then try something else.
Learning How To Menu Plan is much easier than you think. All you need is a great start and resources to help you on your way.
Remember, Be flexible- If you completed your weekly menu and realize you only made it to Tuesday and want something different. Go for it. If you find that your current menu planning is stressing you out, take a step back, and create a system that makes your life easier.
Learning How to Create a Weekly Menu Plan
Are You Ready to Try Menu Planning? Let’s get started on these simple steps.
Step #1- Decide on a system
First, you need to decide on a plan of action and how it will work for your family. Consistently is the key. As you continue to use this process, it will become second nature.
Here are a few key points when deciding on a system that works for your family:
- How often do you want to shop for food?
- Are you using sale item- coupons- weekly flyers sales?
- Are you planning a menu for 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month?
Step #2- Look At Your Schedule
A functional meal plan should always reflect your schedule. The whole point of a menu plan is to make your life easier, not harder.
Therefore, if you know a certain day of the week will be busier than others, then plan for those days. On those busy days plan simple recipes, a slow cooker meal, or have a “leftover night”.
Step #3- Write It Out
Make a shopping list & FREE printables
Now I know this seems like common sense, but making a list is worth mentioning ( I almost did not even add this to the menu plan list). Make a list of ingredients you will need at the store. Simply writing “beef Cabbage stir fry” on a sheet of paper, might not trigger you to remember the cabbage, or heck, even the beef when shopping.
You will need to find, make or create a planner. Don’t over-complicate the menu planner process. There is no need with crazy color-coded charts, DIY menu boards, binders, and a million other cute accessories. By all means, if that’s your thing, then go for it! A simple sticky note on the refrigerator will do the trick.
Lastly Remember to put your menu plan in a place that you can visually see it. If you can’t find your weekly menu what good will it do?
FREE Weekly MENU PLANNING PRINTABLES
Download Your FREE Menu planning printables below
Step #4 – (optional) Get CREATIVE
To be more creative with your menu plan, you will need just a little more planning. I have now gotten the hang of menu planning and wanted to spice it up a little (no pun intended).
Here is how to be Creative menu planner:
– Do a leftover make overnight – Take the pork chops you made on Monday and turn it into pork fried rice on Wednesday. Had spaghetti and meatballs on Tuesday? Make meatball subs on Friday.
– Create themed meals- Meatless Mondays, Tofu Tuesdays, Fun Fridays, Rock out with your crock out Saturdays, Spicy Sunday….. (still looking for a Wednesday theme! If you know of a good one, be sure to leave a comment). You can even just theme night as Italian night.
–Cook 1 new meal a week– Looking for a new taste? This is one of the best CREATIVE tips and I believe would be beneficial if you feel you are in a cooking rut. I always find inspiration when I search on Pinterest. Dust off an old cookbook and look inside.
Plus, each week I post new recipes. I love some good frugal-friendly recipes. Meal planning can save you time, money, and sanity. For me, the savings is a huge part of why I meal plan.
Now that you are organized, I bet you are feeling more comfortable. We would love to know how you have created a weekly menu plan and how it is working for your family. Leave us a comment below.