Meal Planning, I think it’s time to start again. We were on a roll last year with planning and ordering groceries online, then we were very busy with no time to plan ahead. With fall finally arriving, we’ve talked about getting back on track. Meal Planning is valuable in two ways, it actually saves time as well as money. I have written a few blog posts on the subject and will link them in this article.
How to get started? I think the first step is to think of how much added stress and time cooking each night can add to your week. I wrote a blog a couple years ago comparing Penny Planner vs Lizzy Last Minute. In the comparison Penny Planner saves money, but she also saves time and energy by making a plan for the week ahead. Planning is a simple step to get back valuable time, while also staying on budget.
Ok, then what? Make a plan! Seems simple enough. I think where people fail is believing they can look up a few recipes and be set for the week! Oh no, it doesn’t work that way. You need to write down the meals you want to prepare, then check to see what ingredients you require. This way the whole week is laid out for you, no need to look up recipes each day or go grocery shopping, you’ve already done that work. Plus you won’t find yourself halfway through cooking only to realize you are missing two ingredients (we’ve all been there). I wrote a blog post with a sample menu I used to give you an idea of how specific I am with my plan.
To help you get started here is a menu planner I created! Print it off, make notes, get planning! Share a photo on social media tagging @aplentifullife! I would love to see what everyone is making.
Ok so you have made a plan, now what? Here is where I may lose a few people. This year I took it next level and started batch cooking which means I cook everything on Sunday for the entire week. What? Yes, it’s true (search Batch Cooking on the blog to read the three part series). It takes less time than you may think, roughly 2 to 3 hours. What I gain back is huge. I have every night free during the week, no need to worry about finding a recipe or picking up groceries or cooking or cleaning up a huge mess. I simply throw a dish in the oven or heat it up on the stove. I use the same menu planner to list out my meals and to make a plan. Also if we are really busy, the Meal Plan is in the kitchen so Mark or I know what is for dinner that night.
Batch cooking might not be for everyone, I totally understand. In that case I would suggest doing a large grocery shop so you have everything you need for the week. Then if there are snacks or meals you can prep on Sunday, that will be a huge help. For example, making quinoa on Sunday for salads during the week or baking muffins for snacks or making overnight oats for breakfast. These simple steps will also help during the week to save time.
Lastly, stick to your plan! I think it is easy to pick up sushi on the way home or go out for appy’s after work, if that’s part of your plan, great! If you bought food that will go bad because you are too lazy to cook it, not so good. There is a happy medium, if you do go out then freeze the food you don’t use or cook it and freeze the meal. I’ve done it before where I go out and then say, “Oh, I will cook that meal later” and it never happens, then I end up throwing away food, which I hate. Sticking to your plan will save money, time and food! All very important.
You can do this! I believe in you. I also know after meal planning for a week or two, you will already see some benefits and be telling everyone else to try it!
To start if you live near a Save On Foods, they delivery groceries for around $6. It is really simple and saves even more time. Plus it is very easy to compare costs online and select products with ease.
THREE STEPS TO TAKING THE STRESS OUT OF COOKING:
1. Meal Plan: Download my free printable Weekly Meal Planner to create your list of meals for the week.
2. Shop Online: There are a lot of grocery stores that offer delivery now. All you have to do is a search in your area and you will find one.
3. Batch Cooking: This step may not be for everyone, but I encourage you to try it one week and see how you feel. For us we gain so much time back during the week not worrying about cooking or picking up groceries.