If you’re anything like me, you LOVE making a grocery list and going grocery shopping. Stop it…..right now. I don’t exactly LOVE doing these things, but I enjoy the feeling I get AFTER I have done a nice grocery haul. I feel blessed to be able to provide home cooked meals for my family, while saving money by not eating out too often. Plus, I know that I won’t have to go to the grocery store every couple of days. Ladies and gentleman, I do 2-week grocery hauls. That’s right! Aside from the occasional re-up on fresh fruit, juice, or sweet-tooth goodies, I don’t step foot in a grocery store except every couple of weeks. Here are my TOP tips on meal planning:
- Set aside time-Listen, it takes me a while to come up with meal ideas. It doesn’t HAVE to take so long, but I can be pretty particular about what we eat. I don’t like to eat the same thing over and over. But, anywho, set aside a time to plan your meals, without interruptions.
- Do a kitchen inventory-Take a look around your kitchen and see what items you already have in stock. I don’t have a “stocked” pantry in the sense of 4 cans of every item you could ever have (sorry, mom). But I do have items that may not have been used during the last meal phase. Check your pantry, fridge,and freezer. These items can help you decide what meals you can make. Do you have a bag of chicken breasts in the freezer? Make something with chicken! You get it, right?
- View your grocery stores’ sales ads- If you’ve ever been on a budget, or were just curious as to what’s in season, check the sales ads. This can also help you decide what meals to make. I get happy when I see Boston Butt on sale at Little Giant Farmer’s Market. Pork carnitas is a dish we LOVE to eat around here.
- Ask Somebody– Ask your family members what they have a taste for. You would think my husband would be used to this, but he always responds with, “I can’t come up with anything off the top of my head.” Ask your kids what they’d like. They would LOVE to have input on what’s for dinner. It will also keep you from having to think for too long. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
- Re-use grocery list items– Once you’ve gotten a few things on your meal plan list, start writing out your ingredients/groceries needed. How many times have you made a new dish that called for 1 carrot, leaving the rest of the carrot’s family to rot in the fridge? Don’t do that! Think of other recipes that call for carrots. You can shred them, chop them, and add them to almost anything for great flavor and nutrition. Use Pinterest and Google to help you come up with ideas.
- Get creative– Work smarter, not harder. Use categories to help you decide what to cook. Using categories helps your brain to visualize lots of associated items. Some of the categories I’ve used are: Better than Takeout (make what you would buy at a restaurant), Soul Food, Mexican, Burgers, Soup, Whole30, Meatless, etc. You’d be surprised at how much faster you can come up with ideas.
- Use a Calendar-When meal planning, it’s best to consider what’s going on in life. If you often have a late night at work, you PROBABLY don’t want to stand over a stove for an hour. Think of a 15-minute meal or throw something in the crock pot. Plan on having dinner with a friend on Friday? Don’t worry about a meal for that night! Having family over on Sunday? Make something that will feed a crowd.
I hope these tips will help you on your next grocery escapade! They’ve definitely helped me to save time and effort. But I have a long way to go. What are some of your favorite meal categories?