It's the second week of my two-week meal plan that I shared last Monday. So far, I've stuck to it, and it was really nice this weekend to make a simple shopping list based on work I had already done. If you're just getting started with meal planning, here are some suggestions to get you started:
Start with one week at a time, then make a grocery list based on those meals (plus whatever you need for breakfasts and lunches) and plan to shop ONCE at the beginning of the week. I shop on Fridays for the week ahead.
Consider a simple template to help you brainstorm your meals: one night per week for pasta, soup, chicken, pizza, tacos, etc. Then each week, change it up with a different recipe other changes so you're not eating identical meals each week. DisneyFamily has some great suggestions for variety on a 7-day meal plan.
Use a paper meal planner and hang it in the kitchen so you know the plan. This helps you remember to take meat out to thaw the night before, keeps your husband from snacking on recipe ingredients (usually–ahem), and keeps the kids from asking “What's for dinner?” a hundred times a day. There are tons of printable meal planners online; try these from OrgJunkie, MoneySavingMom and $5Dinners.
Stay motivated and encouraged by seeing how others schedule their week. Most moms are not planning fancy recipes! They're planning pizza, mac & cheese, and other family favorites. Every week, there's a HUGE linky of meal plans and recipes over at Menu Plan Monday at OrgJunkie. You'll find allergy-specific and other menus there, too.
Give it a month, and once you have the hang of it you can start to apply the other grocery savings strategies to bring your grocery budget down. These are the types of strategies I'll share every other week here at Meal Plan Monday.
You can do this! Meal planning not only reduces your stress but helps your family eat healthier and saves you money over takeout/restaurants.