Recently, I wrote an article about how I get everything I need done (not always what I want) during the day and week. To expand on that post I am writing in more detail how I use a meal planning menu to save time, money and reduce stress in our home during busy seasons. You can read the original post here.
The following menus are what we use in our home, during busy seasons of life to make meal planning easier.
To be honest, I am not following a meal plan right now, I am fortunate enough to still be on my maternity leave and I have time in the morning to think and plan our meals. When I go back to work, it will be a different story, I find it very stressful to come home and not have a plan for supper.
I like to feed our family real foods and pulling out a box of cheesy pasta is not something I’m comfortable with. So to be able to reduce our stress and feed our family good food we use a meal plan.
Using a menu involves an initial time investment, but once you have your menus and get familiar with your grocery list, meal planning gets easier and can save you time and money.
Our menu is on a four-week rotation, that means I have four different weekly menus that I use on a regular basis. We shop every two weeks on the weekend, making the trip into the nearest city.
At our place, whenever we are both working, whoever is home first makes supper. Having the menu available means that no matter who is making supper that night we know exactly what to prepare.
Below is a picture of a menu that we use and our grocery list, it shows how we use our menu and what we include. I don’t always type in our menu, often times it is just hand written, with notes jotted down beside the menu items.
Do whatever works for you, find a menu template that you like and can adapt for your families needs. If you would like to use the one pictured, you can download it by clicking the link below.
Getting started with a menu:
- Start small, don’t think you have to come up with a months worth of menu ideas in a day. It takes time.
- Create a meal planning folder or binder, this will help keep menus and recipes in one place for easy access.
- Set aside time every week to prepare your grocery list and menu, I do this on Sunday mornings.
- Set aside time to prepare in advance your lunches and any prep work that needs to be done for the next day. I do this during our dinner clean up. The kids help make their lunches for the next day using any leftovers, and I take out anything that needs to defrost for the next days meal.
- Use recipes and meals that you know your family will eat.
- Shop on a specific day, before going to the store check flyers for sales and go over your grocery list. Use your freezer to store food that is on sale that you can use later.
- Use leftovers, it saves you time and money. When roasting a chicken plan a week of meals using the leftovers, chicken sandwiches for lunch, fajita’s, etc.
- Cook/bake double batches, it takes just as much time to bake a double batch as a single and you can freeze the extra. This saves time since you already have all your baking materials out. This also works well when cooking, making two lasagna’s is just as easy as making one and the other can be frozen, to use on a busy night.
- Use meal planning apps, often they will make a grocery list for you and can find recipes. I prefer using a pen and paper 🙂
- Keep your menu in a visible spot in the kitchen. Our menu is posted on our cupboard doors.
If you are the type of person that likes to have everything ready and handy on your phone or computer I would recommend using a menu planning app. There are some great ones available. I have not used these apps personally, but have heard good things about them.
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of these apps or programs, my opinions are my own.
Menu Planning Apps
Plan to Eat – offers a free 30 days trial and builds your grocery list for you.
Cook Smarts – offers free recipes and simple weekly menus. Some services are free others are not.
Do you use a meal plan? What other tips would you recommend?