Meal Planning

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Meal planning made simple. It’s not fancy. It’s not pretty. It’s real life and it works!

I plan suppers for two weeks. I use my stash of recipes and Pinterest. My motto is simple is best, therefore, we have our go-to recipes that I know are delicious, easy and approved by my hungry husband, my three kiddos and me!

When planning each night of the week’s meals, I think through our week. Do we have any busy nights where a crockpot meal would be best. On Tuesdays when I work I make sure I plan for a quick meal or something in the slow-cooker all day.

I’ve used loose sheets of paper for planning meals, but felt like the messiness of papers flying around was bothersome. This year I’m trying something new! I bought a simple monthly calendar from the dollar bins at Target (whoever purchases for the dollar bin at target is a genius)! calendar outside

It’s really helpful to see the days laid out, and also keeps everything in one place!

inside full calendar

I also like to take inventory of what’s left in our pantry and fridge from the previous two weeks. I don’t get hung up on this too much, but it helps lower the cost of the grocery trip the second time around if I can utilize what we already have.

I only write down suppers. We generally have the same breakfasts: oatmeal, eggs, toast, cereal, yogurt & granola. Lunches are more often than not leftovers from the night before or deli sandwiches or macaroni and cheese for the girlies.

calendar inside

Realistically I do not cook 7 nights a week. Something usually comes up or I’m just dog tired and don’t feel like cooking. These are the nights we’ll either grab a pizza, go out or just eat breakfast for dinner!

I try to mix up which meat we’re having each night, so we don’t eat chicken three days in a row.

My husband is a big hunter, so we have a freezer full of venison. I substitute venison for beef a majority of the time, which is a HUGE cost savings to our family. (Side Note: we rarely eat plain venison. You can hardly taste the gamey flavor when used in dishes when it’s covered in something!)

While I’m writing in the meals for each day of the week, I jot down on my grocery list the items I will need for that meal. If I think I had a jar of salsa leftover, I’ll check out my pantry and fridge to double check what I already have.

ingredient list

After the ingredients for the meals are recorded on my grocery list, I add whatever items I know we’ll need for breakfasts, snacks and any extras we may need (like napkins, toilet paper, etc.)

I shop primarily at Aldi, and have a pretty good mental picture of where everything is in the store. I write my grocery list in the order in which I’ll see the items at Aldi, which saves time and prevents me from having to back track through the one way aisles! (This also helps if I send my hubby to the store…he’s usually impressed everything is actually in the order I wrote it in J)

The best part about meal planning is the cost savings. The fewer times you run to the store, the less money you’ll be tempted to spend.

We do usually make a run to the store after the first week to grab another gallon of milk if we need it or fresh produce.

Another great benefit is having options. You don’t have to go exactly by the book, but you know what you have available to you. Just remember to get out your meat or prep ahead anything you may need for that meal.

Happy meal planning!

If you don’t have a calendar and want to get started right away, here’s a meal planning sheet you can use! Don’t over think it. Go for it!