If your family is anything like mine, then by dinner time, the family have turned into a crazed pack of wolves.
From schools out until bedtime, life is a mad dash between running everyone to their clubs, homework, and appointments.
While there’s nothing I can do about our hectic lives, I can help make sure that the family eats a good dinner.
Implementing a weekly meal plan really does save you money and time. It stops you going for the takeaway menu when the family go nuclear and means you don’t have to face a cupboard full of food with no clue or inspiration on what to cook.
I don’t have time to meal plan
Think again! By just spending a few minutes a day writing down what you’ve used, and maybe would like to eat next week, can help half your food shop.
Meal planning alone has helped me make fewer trips to the grocery store, eat out less and stop going for the kids staple chicken nuggets and chips every night. (Saying that we do have it on days I just can’t fit dinner in!)
But where do I start?
To help, I’ve broken my own process down into 9 easy to follow steps. I really do believe that meal planning can save you money, and I challenge you to try meal planning for 9 weeks to see how much it saves you.
Meal Plan Sheets
Depending on how comfortable you are, either find a spare pad or print out 8-10 copies of a weekly meal plan sheet.
You’ll need enough space to write down a simple menu for each day and a shopping list as you go.
You can make your own weekly meal plan or use some I’ve created for free. Having several copies on hand will help inspire you to get started and keep up the meal plans for several weeks.
Before you know it, meal planning will become a natural part of your routine.
Check Your Calendar
Before you even think about food, check your schedule.
There’s no point writing a meal plan for a week that you’re away or if you aren’t going to be back for dinnertime.
Use a bright color of ink to list calendar items on your meal plan so you can decide what the family are eating on these days. It could be leftovers or cheese on toast, doesn’t matter, as long as everyone knows.
Check your freezer, fridge, and cupboards
Before you start planning, check what you have already. Do you have any kitchen staples that you could use to bulk out any meals or use on days you’re late home?
Is there anything in your freezer you could eat to bring this weeks shopping list down?
Same goes for vegetables and side dishes. Spending a few minutes checking the freezer, fridge and cupboards can save you money later on.
What’s on Sale?
Have a quick look through your local supermarket’s brochure or website. Most of them shout about their deals all over social media too.
Is there anything that the family would eat featured? There’s no point buying something if no one eats it, just to feed the bin though.
Write down meals to make your shopping list
After a few days of writing down what you’ve been eating, you’ve probably got a bit on your list already.
Now it’s time to fill in your meal plan and make your shopping list from that.
What are some of your family’s favorite meals? Do you need anything for the kid’s lunchboxes? What about breakfast or weekend snacks?
Don’t forget to plan a few simple or quick meals for the days you’re going to be in late or when the kids have a club.
Keeping it simple will help you stick to your plan.
As you fill in your dinners for the week, start writing your shopping list. Using a weekly meal plan sheet helps to break down your list into easy to read chunks.
You can even break it down further into sections like produce, meats, refrigerated, frozen, etc.
Having your grocery list broken down into categories will save you time in the store. (I don’t personally do this, as I write my shopping list as I go throughout the week, depending on what we’ve used. So at the supermarket, I just scan down the list to check what I’ve written.)
Don’t forget your cleaning supplies
Once your meals are planned, take a few minutes to think of other items you will need for the week.
Check your cleaning cupboard, bathroom and under the kitchen sink. Do you need any washing detergent, dish soap or multi-purpose cleaners? If you have pets, do they need food or treats? What about paper towels or toilet paper? Toothpaste or shampoo?
You won’t have to buy these every week, and spreading them across the month will stop it hitting you hard at the checkout.
Remember to take your list with you
Here’s where you start feeling super prepared!
Cut your meal plan and shopping list in half.
Place your meal plan somewhere everyone can see, like the fridge or a cork board.
When it’s time to cook dinner, you simply check your meal plan and start cooking!
No more having to think about dinner time under pressure!
- £1 a Head Family Meals: Recipes That Will Keep Your Food Bill in Check
- 5 Ingredient Budget Meals That Will Get You Through a Working Week
- How to Feed a Family of Four for Under £16 a Week
Haggle On and Offline
Face to face is easy, especially if you visit a local market or small store.
Online is even easier though. Get as far as the checkout screen and log out. Check your emails and reply to the supermarket, explaining why you didn’t buy. It could be anything, like the items are to expensive or the delivery slot isn’t convenient.
Then haggle. Nine times out of ten they will offer you a discount to make you complete your order.
Save your favorite meals
At the end of the week, instead of throwing away your old meal plans, keep them.
On weeks you are struggling for inspiration, you can drag them back out choose your favorites.
I try and add some new meals each week, but stick to a couple of classics that I know everyone will eat without question.
Before you know it you’ll have a load of meals to choose from, that are easy to prepare and cost you less at the supermarket.
So, are you up for the challenge? Try these 9 easy steps for 9 weeks. Download my free weekly meal plan sheets, and get started right away!