We’ve all been guilty of handing over our cash to the delivery driver, the drive-thru window, or even the curbside takeaway to spare us the stress of getting dinner on the table. In concept, meal plans work great. They give you a plan of attack for busy nights and save you from the added stress of not knowing what you’re making each night. Despite even the best planning, we still fall victim to these guilty pleasures. If you struggle to stick with your meal plan, then you need these simple meal planning tips!
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Determine your why
To commit to your meal plan, you need something to motivate you to stick with it when things get busy. Maybe you’re why is to eat out less or save money, but if you don’t have a “why” you probably won’t be able to stick with it. For me, it’s all about being able to get a tasty and nutritious dinner on the table every night to save at the expense of groceries. When I don’t stick with a plan, my family tends to just snack all night long. Not only is this not very healthy for us, but it also costs way more to buy snack foods all of the time. Once you know why you want to meal plan, you’ll be motivated to stick to it.
Write it down
Setting up your meal plan is as simple as putting your thoughts to paper. Most of us probably have some idea of what we’re going to make that week before we even put pen to paper. Using a meal planning printable or even just a Google Sheets spreadsheet can make it more exciting, and help you stay organized.
You could also set up a menu board in your kitchen, this also helps everyone in the house know what the dinner plans are; this just might prevent pre-dinner snacking! I found a magnetic board at the Dollar Tree a while back that makes my weekly meal planning super simple and convenient.
Check out these wonderful meal planning printables!
Weekly Menu Planner from Faith Filled Food for Moms
Free Menu Planning Templates from Savings Lifestyle
Simple Printable Meal Planner from Twitchetts
Busy Mom’s Meal Planning Binder from Life of a Homeschool Mom
One of the major downfalls of meal planning is not being realistic about your time restraints and your real life habits. Before you write down any meals, take a look at your calendar and see if there are any days when you will be busy or plan on going out with friends. This will become a huge help in determining which nights you need to prepare simple meals, or even when you need to plan larger meals. Make a note of nights you think you might want to go out or have friends over to avoid scraping something together at the last minute.
Keep it simple
One of the main reasons we fail to stick to our meal plans is because we plan too many difficult meals. If you aren’t a gourmet chef, don’t try to be! There’s nothing wrong with simple meals like spaghetti or a casserole. Don’t set yourself up for failure by making your meals too difficult. Know how long you have to work with, and what you can reasonably make before finalizing your meal plan. If you’re busy and short on time, a recipe that requires two hours to prepare isn’t realistic or smart.
Make a list (I forget this one ALL the time!!)
Don’t rely on your brain to do the hard work for you. While you may know a recipe inside and out, it’s easy to forget an ingredient, which could mean not being able to cook the meal. Be sure to make sure you don’t already have some of the ingredients you need. Bring this list with you to the store, and stick to it!
These five simple meal planning tips will help you stick to your meal plans and save money on groceries!