Meal Planning: Healthy Dinners 101
Let me start with this by telling you how much I hate meal planning. To be more specific, how much I hate planning meals For my family. I love preparing meals and I love planning, but I don’t love planning meals for my family.
I used to faithfully plan meals every two weeks, (because that’s how often I get paid), but I walked away from that a while ago. There’s been a lot of “What do you want for dinner?” conversations from the last six months. It has aged. Almost as old as meal planning. See paragraph 1. Anyway, my husband and I decided that for budget purposes, we NEED to plan meals because it makes grocery shopping MUCH easier and more affordable if there is a specific list to follow. When I plan meals, I am not running to the store every night to buy this or that … instead, if I plan meals for two weeks, we can buy food for two weeks.
And to that I say Ugh. And if! I’m not a huge fan of bulk shopping, but frankly, it works for our family’s budget. So phew for bulk purchases, but hooray for a healthy budget! (And healthy dinners too!). So honestly, for the hour or so it takes to sit down and select all 14 or more dinners, it’s really worth the headache. One hour, 14 meals, every two weeks. I CAN DO THIS!
Then. I explained WHY we need meal plans. Now I will show you what works for actual planning.
- You need a calendar, pen, sheet of paper, and the internet’s favorite wonderful recipe book // Pinterest // to select your dinners.
- Think of your family’s favorites. What dinners work for them? What events are coming up that I should plan for? Are you trying to eliminate dairy or gluten? Do you want to try some vegetarian dishes? For me, I want my family to eat less dairy and refined sugars (ie, pasta and heavy breads) and more whole foods. So I am incorporating menus that reflect those options. I also have to consider what my daughter will eat and what she will not eat. He’s certainly come a long way, but he’s still picky about what he likes.
- Fill in the calendar dates with the meals you have selected.
- Create your shopping list from the recipes you have chosen.
- Add other sundries that you may need for breakfast, lunch, and snacks.
- Go shopping! And then, if you are very ambitious, prepare next week’s meal. I am not that ambitious.
FYI: We shop at Costco and Aldi. Costco is great for organic meats, juices, and breads. Aldi is amazing for just about everything else and is also very affordable. Also, I like to shop for specialty items at Trader Joe’s. Shopping day is tomorrow so I’ll keep you posted on how it goes! Husband and I are really working hard now and over the next year to control our budget. This year, our expenses have gotten out of hand. I hope this meal planning helps with our monthly grocery bill!