Meal planning!! I’ve been loosely meal planning for years because having a plan for my meals when I go to the store helps me stay on budget and also keeps me from eating out as much which is a huge temptation haha. It’s so practical for my life and keeps me more organized to have a plan even for what we eat!
Why I Meal Plan
Ultimately, meal planning keeps me from walking into the grocery store and just buying whatever looks good only to get home and realize I didn’t get things that can actually be complete meals. If I went to the store and just bought stuff on a whim, I’d probably end up with some fruit, a loaf of bread, some cereal, and random stuff from all the other aisles that caught my attention. Basically I’d spend a lot of money and get not very much haha. Keeping myself organized and making my list for ingredients I need before I go to the store is the ONLY way I can control myself and stay on task when I something extra catches my eye.
My goal for groceries every week is $100 or less so I don’t give myself a lot of room to buy extra things we don’t need. Some weeks I do amazing and come in under budget and others I go over, especially if we’re having friends over! It’s all about balance. I never beat myself up if I go over budget when it’s because we’re feeding friends or family. They’re so much more important than saving a few bucks! It probably seems like a super small budget, and it definitely can be a challenge, but we’d just rather spend our money on other things like vacations. Plus, it keeps me from buying to many snacks and sweets that I definitely don’t need.
Planning out our meals for the week is also great for Tyler and I’s work schedules. I’m the cook in the family — Tyler gets super stressed out if he tries to cook something he’s not familiar with haha — but I don’t get home until 7:30 pm on days that I work so I plan ahead for those days with meals that are quick and easy to whip up when I get home.
Staying organized by planning our meals each week has proven so helpful for me time and time again. It helps us stay on budget and make healthier choices because we’re not choosing our meals in the moment based on what we’re craving!
How I Meal Plan
Every week I use the Google Sheets app and have a sheet that I update with planned meals and a grocery list for the current week! The app comes in handy because I plan meals on my iPad but only take my phone to the store, so it’s super helpful that I can access the same spread sheet with my grocery list on both devices.
Like I said before, it’s helpful for me to know which days we’re working when I plan because our work schedules are so odd and we have strange hours. On nights that I’m working, I always plan meals that are easy to whip up and take minimal effort because I still want to eat healthy, but I don’t want to spend another hour doing something before I can sit and rest after my day. It’s also important for me to choose recipes that make larger amounts and reheat well since we’re big believers in leftovers. It saves me from having to make extra meals and it helps us stay on track by bring the leftovers to work.
I also try my best to choose meals that are mostly healthy and have protein that will keep us energized because both of our jobs are pretty demanding both mentally and physically. As I make my list, I’ve gotten in the habit of comparing the length of the list underneath the ‘produce’ and ‘grocery’ sections and I try to keep the one under produce longer. For me it’s a way of trying to have more fresh foods in the house and less processed stuff. I can’t tell you how many times I search “healthy dinners with vegetables” in Pinterest trying to keep the produce list longer!
Pinterest is pretty much my recipe archive and has sooo many great things we’ve tried and have loved over the years. If you want to check any of them out, just search for me and follow me there! I’ll also continue to share recipes I love on here as well as on instagram!