Meal-Planning 101

Meal-Planning 101

I’ve spoken about our budgeting process and have mentioned that we meal plan, but in today’s post I thought I’d go into more detail and discuss why it was such a great decision for us.

Gary and I spent the majority of our college meals eating out and eating terribly. I didn’t get back to my apartment until after 8 p.m. on most weeknights and usually didn’t eat dinner until after that. We spent so much money on getting quick meals because there just wasn’t enough time to cook a good meal due to the extensive hours we were both putting into school, our jobs, and our internships. Eating like this worked for me at the time, but the thought now makes me cringe because I shouldn’t have put my body through what I did. I hardly ever ate breakfast – if I did, it was a poptart or something unhealthy on the way to work in the morning. I usually skipped lunch completely. However, as I mentioned in this post, times have changed (thankfully) and we’re now devoted to a full-on meal-plan.

How it works
Once a week (on Fridays), I sit down and look at our calendar to see what activities we have planned and if there are any nights that we know we will be out or have something going on. Once those are accounted for, I count up the nights that we need meals for. I usually plan on five meals a week, sometimes more, sometimes less (again, depending on our schedule).

After determining the number of nights that we need meals for, I head to Pinterest or start flipping through cookbooks for meal ideas. It usually takes me half an hour to track down all of my recipes for the week.

Once I have the recipes, I make sure to print them all out (if they’re online). After printing/compiling the recipes, I create a document on my computer which lists out the days of the week we need meals, the meals, and the ingredients. This probably takes another half hour in total to complete.

Following the creation of the ingredients list, I check our cabinets to ensure that we don’t already own some of the items that the recipes call for. I order our groceries online, so I search for all the ingredients I need, put them in my basket, and schedule a time for pickup. On Sundays after church, we drive over to the grocery store and pick up our order. It’s that simple!

Benefits
-We eat out less
-We spend less money
-I know what ingredients are going into our food
-We eat healthier since our meals are planned

Have you tried meal-planning? Do you have any tips to share?