5 tips to mastering a meal plan

Menu planning is so not my favorite thing in the world. I actually hate it. I also hate grocery budgets but I really like vacations so I guess I will deal. I put together the 5 steps I use when I do our semi-vegan, two-week menu plan. It’s also easy to adjust to your families needs. So here we go…

Step 1: make a master list.

This is a list of meals your family will eat or at least tolerate. you can have a cookbook, a binder or just make a list on a piece of paper. I have a book somewhere but I put it in an easy place to find and can no longer find it. That happens to me a lot.

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Step 2: write what you have.

Make another list of all the things you have in the cupboards, the fridge, the freezer and the pantry. I know this can be a daunting task to go through everything, but you will feel so accomplished I promise. The only thing I did yesterday was the meal plan and I feel like I took on the world. The house looked like it was hit by a tornado but I did the menu plan!

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Step 3: Cross reference and get creative.

Now look at both lists and see how many things you can make with the ingredients you have or with minimal new ingredients. For example: I had pepper, onions and a steak. I can easily turn that into fajitas. I add beans for my meat, which I have. So all I need for this recipe is tortillas and avocado. Keep doing this until you can’t think of any more or until you run out of food. I always shoot for 12 meals for 2 weeks. we usually have one leftovers day and maybe we eat out another day. If I still have unmade meals at the end of the 2 weeks then I roll them over to the next week. If you still have days and no meals then you can either pick some cheaper meals and buy all or most of the ingredients or try something new. Pinterest is my best friend. This week we are trying a roasted garlic and cauliflower soup. I like this recipe because it only requires 3 new ingrediants even though it’s a new recipe. That helps me keep money in the bank.

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Step 4: Those other meals.

Now I know that there are other meals of the day but dinner is usually more difficult and its my favorite. I use dinners for lunches the next day and send them with my husband for his meals at work. We rely on leftovers a lot but I also plan a couple other things in case we are pigs the night before. We always have peanut-butter and jelly, meat and cheese, and bread on hand to make a quick-lunch. I also keep boxed mac and cheese or cans of soup around too. we are usually on the go for lunch so I keep easy to pack stuff. crackers, fruit, nuts, and veggies are our go to. Breakfasts are usually the same. Every week we have a box of cereal, eggs and toast, smoothies, mini pancakes, and fruit and yogurt with granola. so those are really easy just to add the shopping list.

Step 5: Write the shopping list.

The final step is here. Go through all the meals you have planned and the extras you will need and make the final list. The grocery list. This will have everything on it you will buy in the grocery store. Now, here’s the hard part….only buy the things on that list. you will have everything you need for every meal and you wont need to impulse buy. Sticking to the list will save your time, money and sanity.

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Those are the basic 5 steps I use every time I do our two-week menu plan. I’d love to hear if you try it and love it or if you have any suggestions. Thank you for taking a peek at my wonderfully hectic life!

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