I will admit that I am horrible at meal planning! I am still working on my consistency at getting it done every week as it does help save time and money. As a family of four, I try to keep our grocery bill as low as possible while keeping the menu healthy, tasty, and fun! Not only am I preparing our lunches for the week, but dinners as well since I do not get home until after seven in the evening. Get ready for my easy, no fuss, super simple steps of meal planning!
Check the Sale Ads
Check the sale ads for whatever grocery store you go to. I always buy what’s on sale, so that we can stock up and freeze meat for use at a later time. I also see what fruit and vegetables are on sale and utilize those for snacks or sides. All in all this is the most time-consuming step for me. Once I know what is on sale, I start planning what meals I will make around the items I know we will be buying.
Usually, chicken breast is always on sale. We also tend to catch the pork loin on sale ($1.79/per pound!!) and then the deli will cut it to our specifications. Turkey burger is big on our list if it’s on sale, although depending on what beef is on sale we may get that as well. We also opt to pick fresh veggies over canned depending upon what is in season. Don’t be afraid to get clearance salad mix or spinach! It’s usually still good for a few days! Don’t be afraid to save money this way on meat as well. Be cautious, but, I’ll be honest, I have never gotten anything that has gone bad within a few days. Just make sure that you cook or freeze the meat immediately or use the veggies in your first prepared lunches/dinners.
Here is a typical grocery list for our family:
As you can see I tend to break it up by section when I write out my list. However if your grocery store has an app, like Kroger does, it actually organizes the list you make on the app by aisle for you! Just make sure to set it to the store you are going to. This makes life for my hubs so much easier if he is going without me! Typically, this will last us two weeks (not including the baby’s food) and we will eat out a few times a week. The only thing that I tend to go back for is different vegetables or meat depending upon what goes on sale the following week.
Pick Your Prep Day
Sunday is prep day at our house. Usually, I get up, eat some breakfast, and then the madness begins! I have a few set recipes I use but for the most part I keep everything very versatile. That is my key to keeping my meal planning super simple and easy!
My three best friends are Salt, Pepper, and Mrs. Dash: Table Blend. I either use the table blend alone or the salt and pepper together to season all meats and roasted veggies. This keeps it to where we can sauce it up however we like and can keep it varied from day-to-day. I bake or grill all meats, with one exception when I will pan fry pork from time to time. I use olive oil if I have to use any to roast veggies or to lightly coat a pan for meats. A well stocked spice rack is essential as well. There are many different combinations that can be used while still keeping it versatile enough for everyone in the family.
Be prepared to spend a lot of time in the kitchen! I try to have all of our reusable containers with matching lids on hand, so as items are finished cooking they go directly into the container. Roasting veggies is my favorite way to prepare fresh vegetables. It’s so simple! If you haven’t tried it, you should! Once everything is done and packed in containers, it’s time to put it away. To keep things simple, I place all lunches on the same shelf. Hubs has one side and I have the other! That way, he gets his and I get his! He’s notorious for forgetting his lunch at least once a week. Another idea would be to use different colored lids for each person.
Here’s the BEST Part!
I love sneaking veggies into our dinners to get that extra goodness into my family’s bellies! You can grate the veggies so small that your family will never know they are there! So I am sharing my recipe for baked spaghetti. I may not make my sauce from scratch but it’s made with love and lots of veggie goodness!
Do you meal prep differently? Let me know in the comments below!