Monday, May 6, 2013

Menu Planning How To's

As a newly-wed, I had what seemed all the time in the world. I was still a student at the time while Brandon had just graduated and was working full time. On any given day, I had far more spare time than him and in turn tended to most of the house upkeep, including the cooking and shopping.

I was such a newbie to grocery shopping when we first married. Honestly, Brandon was much more efficient at getting in and out of the grocery back in the day. But I managed to find my own confidence in the aisle of the grocery and soon had my trip running like clock-work. One hour in and out of the door to our house and the budget under $100 every week.

In challenging myself each week to stay on budget and get through the doors of the grocery quickly, I've found that menu planning makes all the difference. The weeks I waiver from menu planning prior to grocery shopping, I'm not only over budget but also looking at a good hour and half wandering through the aisles. Ain't nobody got time for that, mama or otherwise.

For many months, menu planning seemed a bit silly to me. Why take that extra step? I used to be able to plan as I shopped, but things change, mama brain takes over and now I rely on lists and plans.

Attempted menu planning before? Fell off the wagon? Yeah, I've been there.

Here are my best tips to getting your menu planning routine set:

1. Be consistent in planning. Find the day, time, and routine that fit your schedule. For me, menu planning happens Sunday mornings. You'll want at least 30 minutes to plan your meals.

2. Have reliable recipe sources. A few months back, I decided to dedicate a routine to our menu planning and a big part of this has been creating a menu planning pin board. This space holds only items that we'd eat on a week-day basis, quick snacks for the toddler, 30-minute meals and crockpot recipes. 80% of my grocery list will come from choosing our weekly meals from this board.

3. Reference your grocery store's website. We shop either at BiLo or Kroger; each of these stores keep updated discounts listed on their sites. Coordinating these sales and your menu will inevitably keep your bill smaller. Who doesn't want that?

4. Keep track of your recipes. If you buy a bunch of meals but can't remember what they were when 5:00 p.m. rolls around then all your work was for nothing. So, keep the list of your meals in a couple of places each week. Once making my grocery list, I transfer the meal plan over to my life planner. I also, try to keep hold of my grocery list as a second reference throughout the week. Hint, hint: keeping every week creates a go-by menu plan!!

5. Take advantage of printables. Every Sunday I sit down and use my Clean Mama Printables Weekly Menu Plan & Shopping List printable. Of Becky's entire Menu Planning set, this Weekly Menu Plan list has been my favorite! Pinterest is painted with its fair share of menu planning printables and lists as well. And because I couldn't pass up the chance to share my favorites...
meal plan #printables

Menu planning doesn't have to be complicated, it just has to be done! The five (+) dollars you'll have to spare is begging to be spent at Starbucks on the way home.

Do you menu plan? What keeps you on track?

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  1. I love the clean mama printables for the menu and grocery lists!

  2. Oh how fun! These are great tips!

  3. I guess I shouldn't knock it til I try it...but I can't seem to commit to meal planning. Simply for the fact that my "cravings" and energy levels for food preparation change on a daily basis! You might wanna link up here:

  4. I'm a meal planner from way back but never thought of a menu plannng pinboard - what a great idea! Thank you for sharing, Erin.

  5. You put really very helpful information. Keep it up. Keep blogging.

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