Meal Planning Tips

Yo.  How was your week-end?  Lovely, I hope.

This week-end was all about strategy for us.  You know, dreaming about doing instead of actually doing.

Guess what that gets you?  An organization post.  Woo hoo.

I have recently shared with you my tips for a tidy kitchen.  From that post, I had some requests for meal planning tips.

Meal Planning Tips from Decor and the Dog

I started meal planning about 3 or 4 months ago so I am obviously not an expert yet.  I just pretend to be on my blog…

I have a found a few tools and tips that make meal planning easier.

1. Meal Planning Magnets

Meal Planning- Magnets for Meal Planning

The hardest part of meal planning for me is figuring out what to eat. The second hardest part is not getting into a rut and eating the same 4-5 meals for an entire month.

I made these meal planning magnets to aid me in my “What the heck should we eat?” woes.

They are super simple to make. I purchased some wood disks from Hobby Lobby. I spray painted them with chalkboard paint. I attached a magnet to the back.  (I used a weak magnet.  I wanted the magnets to be strong enough to stick to the fridge but not strong enough to stick to one another.) I then went through my recipe box/Pinterest boards and I wrote down meals that we commonly eat.  The Pinterest recipes got marked with a “P” so I know where to find the recipe…recipe box or Pinterest board.  I used a chalkboard marker instead of regular ol’ chalk.  You can still erase the marker but the writing should stay on better.  I have blank magnets left to add new favorites.

I store the magnets in this little ol’ glass container that I keep in the cupboard.  I can reach in and grab out 4-5 meals for the week.  No thinking require.  If I don’t like something I can just throw it back in and grab another.

Meal Planning Magnet Storage

I then hang the magnets on the side of the fridge to help us easily remember our options for the week.

Meal Planning- Menu Planning Magnets

We pick 4-5 meals for the week.  We don’t assign the meals to certain days of the week. This still allows us some flexibility when life happens.  The breakfast magnet rarely leaves the fridge.

As you can see, I don’t plan my meals around what is on sale.  That would require too much thought.  I just pull from the jar. I do, however, look through my coupon stash and visit Target to see if I have any coupons for the items I will be purchasing.  I feel that people sometimes spend more/buy things they won’t use just because they have a coupon.  

2. A grocery list.

Meal Planning- Printable Grocery List

A grocery list is also a must for meal planning.I recently switched to a grocery list template from Microsoft.  Google it.  They have a ton.  I typed in some of our more commonly used items.  There is plenty of space to add others.  This list is organized by sections of the store so it makes shopping easy.  I also have a space on the side to write down the meals for that week. 

We keep a stash of lists hanging in the pantry.  When we run out of something, we mark it down right away so we don’t forget.

Meal Planning- Printable Grocery List in Pantry

3. A Favorite Foods Board on Pinterest

If you are anything like me, you pin a bunch of food that you will probably never make.  I have boards for each type of food but I also have a Favorite Recipes board that I pin the Pinterest successes too.  This board makes it easy when I pull out that “Pinterest Pick” magnet.  Sometimes I get brave and try something new.  Sometimes I stick to a recently tried success.

As you can see, the tools are simple.  Now I’ll share my overall tips and advantages that I have found from planning meals.

Advantages of Meal Planning:

1. Saves time.

Set aside at least 20-30 minutes each week to plan out your meals and make your grocery list.

I used to think that this was a lot of time.  I have since realized that it takes less time than standing in front on the fridge each night trying to make a meal out of yogurt, mandarin oranges, and pepperoni.

2. Saves money.

We make one trip to the grocery store each week.  This trip provides us with food for breakfast, lunch and dinner for all meals for the week (minus 1 night of eating out).  We are less tempted to buy junk and/or items that we won’t eat.  We spend about $40-$60 per week for the two of us.

3. Less waste

We have found that we waste a lot less with meal planning.  We only buy what is on our list and we use it up within one week.

4. Leftovers

We now plan for at least 2 meals to have left overs.  No more frozen dinners for lunches. Woo hoo!

Now I’m bored.  So you are on your own.  (Reason #1983 why blogging could never be my day job).

Do you meal plan?  Any additional tips?  Got a favorite foods board on Pinterest?  Leave the link!

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