Before I started meal planning, we spent $100 dollars a month or more on fast food. We still spent quite a bit on regular groceries too. Since we are trying hard to pay off our student loan debt we needed to stick to a better food budget. I knew that the best way to do this was to start meal planning better. Here are some steps I took to get motivated and organized for meal planning.
Pick a day to go shopping each week.
This may sound like a simple step but for me, it wasn’t. I work a pretty random schedule compared to a lot of other careers. I also work the evening shift, which means I am not home until about midnight. It is a rotation every 2 weeks. It just so happens that I am off every Thursday so I chose my shopping day to be Friday. That way I have the night before to plan my trip.
Keep a list on your fridge of things that you run out of during the week.
Ok, I’ve been doing this for a while. I somehow manage to forget to write something down, which is always a bummer. But it is still more helpful than just trying to remember everything you need the night before.
Meal plan the night before the shopping trip
This is the hardest step for me(even as I’m typing this blog I need to do my meal planning but I don’t feel like it, haha). It is helpful to try to think ahead during the week of what meals you would like to eat. This is why this step is so hard though. I don’t know what I want to eat ahead of time. Saving recipes that I know we like has been helpful.
I try to plan at least 7 meals so that we have something new each day. That way we also have a lot of leftovers for lunches. Commit to not buying fast food.
This has been hard because my husband’s favorite food ever is Taco Bell…Or maybe Costa Vida…We both have a weakness for fast food because it’s so much easier than cooking. It also costs a lot more and isn’t even that good most of the time.
I put this step ahead of the “cook the food” step because I had to be committed to stopping fast food before I had the motivation to actually cook the food I bought.
Commit to cooking one meal a day.
I try to pick meals that are simple and don’t take a lot of prep. On days that I work, I leave that house at around 2 pm. This means that I need a fast meal, or I can throw something in the crockpot for the family for later. This has been working pretty well the last couple of weeks. On days that I am home, I have finally committed to cooking something each night.
Committing to one meal a day has helped me get into the habit of cooking, even when I don’t feel like it. Every once in a while we have enough leftovers that I don’t have to cook. It is a nice break. It is also nice to have lots of extra food in the fridge so that I have meals for work. Meal planning really doesn’t take that long. It is definitely worth the time because of the money we are saving on groceries and not buying fast food as much. Let me know what some of your favorite meals are in the comments. I will be sharing some of mine! Happy meal planning!