Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Meal Planning - An Overview

Hello Darlin'...nice to see you...it's been a loooonnnggg tiiiimmmeee. Okay, okay, so there is a little Conway Twitty running through my head right now. 

It seems rather fitting though considering it has been ions since I have actually posted anything. This seems to be the pattern, but such is life. 

One of my "New Years Resolutions" is to actually blog, not just randomly show up every 6 months or so. My word of the year is ACCOMPLISH. So if I am going to actually do the blog, I have to give it my all...or it will have to go. 

Soooo....now that I have dumped all that out, let's get on to the meat & potatoes shall we??!?!


Meal Planning

I will be doing several different posts about Meal Planning, going through the specific steps of the process to really explain it all. I love meal planning. I know several of my family members think I am insane, however, I function better when the majority of my life is organized. I am a prolific list maker, and get a little panicky when things are not organized {you should have seen how crazy I was for the several months that our basement pantry was in upheaval while we gutted it}. I blame this on genetics...mostly my Moms side {my Dad is not a planner/organizer}. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments below, and I will do my best to answer them. 

What is Meal Planning?  

Well, basically...you plan your meals. ha! I know, I know...thanks for stating the obvious! Meal planning is a great way to not only save money on your grocery bill for the house, but also save some sanity. We all have super busy lives {whether you stay at home with the kids, or work outside of the home, single, married, or with an entire house full of people}, and meal planning is one way to stream line things. 

How does one get started?

Meal planning takes some time up front to make it work, and once you find your groove...it is fairly smooth sailing. However, you will need to spend some substantial time planning in the beginning. This is where it can feel a bit overwhelming, but once you get all your ducks in a row it will be much easier to organize. 

How far in advance do I plan? 

Meal planning can be as little as one week in advance, to as far as one month {or more}. If you are new to meal planning, I would recommend trying one week at a time to get started, and then gradually increase by weeks once you find a routine that works for you. I personally do one month at a time for meal planning. I find that I can lay out all our meals on paper, then add in some new recipes, and space out what we are eating {I don't like eating the same thing over and over}. 

How often do I shop? 

Currently I am shopping for 2 weeks at a time, and add in extras for further weeks ahead if I find something non perishable on sale. 

Do I need to coupon? 

Nope. I am not putting down the coupon craze what so ever...I just don't have the patience for all that, plus most of the coupons that I see in the paper are not items that we use. I would be wasting money each week buying a Sunday paper, just to recycle the majority of the coupons. So...if you LIKE to coupon, and it works for you...coupon away ladies. My meal planning "system" is set up so that I take advantage of the stores around me {Kroger, Meijer, and Aldi are the stores that I frequent}, and I only use store coupons or discounts...or if I stumble upon a coupon I will use it. Please feel free to incorporate your coupon system into the meal planning system. 

Do I need to follow your meal plan? 

Nope. We have a rather specific menu...well, several specific menus that pertain to our diets in the house. B-Real is on a specific diet that is changed up every month or so by his Homeopathic doctor to pinpoint the cause of his migraines {I will be posting more on that journey sometime this spring}. I have a more plant based diet due to my digestive issues, and Squish...well, she's a Toddler. If some of the meals look intriguing to you, please ask and I will point you in the right direction for recipes. 

What are the required materials?

Paper, pen...anything after that is up to how organized you are. I have a menu binder which houses all our favorite printed out recipes, our monthly meal plan, and lists of new recipes that I want to try. I also have laminated inventory lists that I use with dry erase markers to mark off what we have in our pantry, fridge, and freezers. I find that having lists of exactly what we have in the house make it much easier when making the grocery list. When I plan out our meals, then I know exactly what is going in to each recipe, and can make sure I have all of the ingredients to make each item. 


Steps of Meal Planning

  1. Make lists of meals your family eats, and recipes that you would like to try.
  2. Write out your meals for a week {use a blank calendar print out found here}.
  3. Figure out what ingredients you need for each meal.
  4. Take inventory of food items in your home.
  5. Make grocery list.
  6. Grocery shop.
  7. Make meals.

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