I realized last night that lately we have been eating out. A lot!!!  Not only is that hard on the checkbook, but often times the food I choose when eating out is not the best for my health.  Why would I choose a dish of cottage cheese and fruit when I have a big juicy burger staring me in the face?

It brought me back to the days of planning meals. I had 4 growing children and a schedule that kept us running from church to baseball to gymnastics to school events. I was at a point in our lives that it became necessary for me to be more intentional with meal planning. I found that when I wasn’t prepared, it cost me more energy and money, both of which are valuable commodities when raising children.

So I took some advice from my sister, Diana, and started planning. It took a little time to set up, but once it was done meal preparations were so much easier! I thought it might be good information to pass along to other busy moms. So here you go!

  1. I got out the recipe books and searched online. My goal was twenty recipes. Online searches allow you to search for recipes that take thirty minutes or less to make. That worked great for me! Diana suggested letting the kids choose a meal. I found that they chose foods like macaroni and cheese or pizza. I liked their simple ideas.
  2. Once I had the recipes, I put them on a weekly schedule, planning out five meals per week for a month. If ham was the first meal, quiche (with leftover ham) might be another meal for that week. I set out to plan 4 weeks of menus.
  3. The next step was making a grocery list for each week. Since I had been doing this for a long time, this was easy. I set my list up to follow my path through the store. Fruits, vegetables, dairy, meats, frozen foods, canned goods, cereals, pastas, baking goods, and miscellaneous. This made the task of shopping easier.  
  4. I then had four weeks complete with menus and grocery lists ready to go.  I was set for a month. Back in the day, I printed these out on my computer. With technology, you can probably save them on your phone, with links to the websites. (I’m not that tech savvy.)

Now that you have a month of meals planned, you can add desserts or snacks. When the seasons change, you can add new recipes into your rotation.

Another hint from my sister is to plan meals around the grocery store ads. Often times their ads will be around a meal. Such as a sale on pasta, spaghetti sauce, garlic bread, and salad. Watching the ads can help you plan a meal that will be inexpensive. Add that to your plan and you’ll save time and money!

Well, as my grandson Joey would say, “That’s it! That’s all I got!”

Happy meal planning! With all the extra time you’ll have, spend some extra time with your kids or a good book!