Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Meal Planning

So many resources exist for meal planning that it can be quite overwhelming! I'll try to keep this simple as I explain what works for my family: ) I hope you can find what works for you: )

Several years ago, Nick and I started meal planning to save time and money. We started by planning one week at a time and went to the grocery store once per week, usually on the weekend. Once Hudson was born, the need to save time and money was even greater, so we started meal planning for two weeks at a time. I still go to the store once each weekend, but the two trips serve different purposes!

On the first trip (a.k.a. "the big trip"), I go to two stores: Aldi and another store that has toiletries and whatever Aldi doesn't have (usually Walmart). I almost always go to both stores on the same day, but if I'm tight on time I'll do one store on Friday after work or Saturday and the other one on another day. On the next weekend I complete the second trip, and I just go to one store to buy produce and whatever we ran out of/didn't think about when we made the original list.

I made a shopping chart to keep us organized. The night before the first trip, Nick and I talk about our schedules for the next two weeks and fill out the top part of the shopping chart. 


When we eat, we don't follow the meal plan exactly (e.g., We don't necessarily have pizza on Saturday just because I wrote it in for Saturday!), but I still fill the days in just to make it easier to keep track. Also, we look at the previous meal plan to see if any of the meals didn't get eaten and can be carried over to the new meal plan.

After we have our dinners planned, I fill in the columns at the bottom based on our dinners. If we prefer something from the other store (e.g., pizza) or if Aldi doesn't carry the item or the brand (e.g., diapers), I write that in the "Other Store" section. The Aldi columns are organized by the order of the aisles at my Aldi: ) 


Example (columns filled in based on week 1 only):

After that, we fill in items we want for breakfast, lunch, and snacks. We also talk about what Hudson will eat and add those items. We also add toiletries to the "Other Store" column, and we add anything from the list of items on our fridge whiteboard  that we used up or that are almost gone (e.g., trash bags, paper towels, spices).

When I get to Aldi, I follow my list! Before I go to the second store, I write anything I wasn't able to get at Aldi to the "Other Store" section so that I don't forget anything!

If you're just starting out, I'd suggest trying to plan one week at a time. Once you get the hang of it, try planning for two weeks! Planning for two weeks is also a great way to repurpose something from week 1 into something else for week 2 (e.g., chicken for taco salad and chicken for quesadillas; buns for hamburgers and buns for BBQ chicken).

Hope this helps!

I'm having troubling getting the Word document to load, so email me at if you'd like a copy!

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