Living on a fairly tight budget, I have learned the importance of weekly meal planning. I've had a lot of folks tell me they don't have time to cook or plan meals. I tell them I don't have time NOT to plan out our meals. Since meal planning seems to be somewhat of an enigma for folks I thought I would share my fairly simple meal planning strategy.
I don't have a computer based spread sheet or anything that high tech. Although I may do that one day. for now, I use a tablet that I purchased from the dollar bin at Michaels Craft store a while ago.
It lists the days of the week and I write in what we are having for dinner that night. I don't worry about breakfast or lunch. We usually grab breakfast on our own and I try and keep things like cereal, breakfast bars, and bananas on hand for that. Lunch is usually sandwiches or leftovers from the previous night's dinner. I also list and nights we won't be eating at home (like our anniversary dinner) and those nights we need to eat the leftovers. In addition, I write down where the recipe is locate - cookbook and page number- so that I don't forget where I found the recipe. After I make my meal plan for the week I make up my grocery list.
I typically try to use what I have on hand when planning the dinner menu. This is to keep food I have in the fridge from going bad. I've also been attempting to try a new recipe each week. I have a tendency to collect recipes and then never try them to see if they are any good. So in order to try and pare down my collection I've been trying some new things in an effort to purge out the ones that aren't very good. I'm also trying to prepare one vegetarian meal each week. The Hubs is a serious carnivore so I have to use my creativity.
Below is my grocery list for the week. I only buy what is on the list. This is critical for keeping costs down. I do allow some wiggle room for things that are on sale that we use regularly but for the most part I am list driven.
Financial Peace University this past winter and he suggested the envelope system that is based on only using cash. We have found this to be very helpful.
I hope this has been helpful to some of you. I really encourage to to try a couple of weeks of meal planning. Let me know how it works for you!