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One thing that I have grown to appreciate as a mom is meal planning.
I am not new to it by any means, but lately it is the only way dinner gets on the table.
But the key to meal planning in my book is a meal planning schedule.
What is a meal planning schedule?
The best thing to come into your life. That’s what.
It literally takes the brain work out of meal planning and prepping, and makes it EASY.
It also saves money if you’re smart about it. I actually started my meal planning schedule in order to save time and money. Time and time again I’d find myself running to the grocery store without any sort of plan for the week.
You know what happened those weeks?
I would spend DOUBLE my budget. Not very smart in a one income family.
So something that I have been doing for months now is meal planning with a schedule.
That schedule involves a general meal planned for each night of the week.
Ya know, like Taco Tuesday, Meatless Monday.
I started with “Taco Tuesday” and went from there.
My schedule varies occasionally, like I changed it up recently because of fall weather rolling in. Over summer I had “no oven” meals planned in all over the place.
My current schedule is this:
Monday: Breakfast for Dinner
Tuesday: Taco Tuesday
Wednesday: Crockpot Night
Thursday: Asian Inspired
Friday: Pizza night family night
Saturday and Sunday: Date night / Out and Free Dinner
Can you see how a schedule like this would make everything about meal planning and shopping a breeze? And take the guess work out of “what’s for dinner?”
I never find myself stumped for meals. I always know what we’re eating and when.
But now for the real question;
How do meal planning schedules make life easier?
Well for one, it makes writing out a grocery list take less time.
Usually what I do is open up the weekly ad on my computer and use what is on sale to fill in what exact meal we are having that goes along with the plan. For example, if chicken is on a good sale this week I’ll buy a big pack for taco night, crockpot night and Asian inspired night. Or if pork was on sale, I would do the same; buy enough for those three meals.
The “free” meal each week is just that, a free for all. It might mean left overs for dinner, or it might mean I make a meal that we’re all craving or is on sale.
I base a lot of the meal planning off of what is in the store ad. Not only does it help save money, but it also takes guess work out of grocery shopping. Instead of thinking to myself “hmmm what sounds better this week, chicken or beef?” I can just go yep. Beef is on sale, that is what I am buying.
Meal planning schedules also make grocery shopping itself go by faster.
I don’t usually enjoy grocery shopping. I’d rather be doing ten other things. But my meal scheduling helps me get in and out faster. It helps because you are better accustomed to what you are buying, because you buy similar things every week.
I also find that I am much more likely to NOT forget things at the store when going by my meal schedule.
Another way meal schedules help is by making dinner a breeze.
I hate coming up with dinner ideas. Hate it. Especially now that I have twin toddlers who scream the second they don’t have food in their hands. I love not having to think because of my meal schedule. I just know, okay. It is Wednesday. I need to get the crockpot going while I prep lunch.
Or it’s Friday. Yay. No prep work at all for me!
Every dinner has it’s place and that makes me happy.
We also use a lot more of the food we buy.
Since everything is bought with purpose, we use the majority of what we buy. It doesn’t go forgotten in the back of the fridge unless something comes up and we change the schedule. Like if my mom is in town and we go out or make something different. Not a whole lot of food otherwise goes wasted. Again, more money saved on not buying pointless foods!
Lastly, meal schedules are completely flexible.
They are entirely you’re own. You can stick with mine, or make up one of your own that goes with your families lifestyle. Maybe your oldest has soccer on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s so you make ahead sandwiches, or get the crockpot rolling. Or you want to add in a weekly spaghetti or casserole night.
Whatever it is, it is up to you.
The whole point of meal schedules it to make dinner (or any meal) easier on yourself. To take the guess work out of dinner.
I hope you can take my tips and get a schedule going for yourself! If you have any questions, ask in the comments or shoot me a message on Instagram. I’d be happy to help!