Posted: Oct 12, 2011 10:10 AM
Updated: Oct 13, 2011 11:42 AM
If you Google meal planning, you'll find thousands of sites offering to help you plan meals for your family and save you money. It is true, that meal planning will save you money. There will be fewer last minute trips to the store and less eating out because you'll always know what's for dinner. There are several ways to plan your family meals.
It's easy to find a meal planning website like e-mealz.com or DinnerPlanner.com. They send you a meal plan every week or you log in to get the meals for an allotted period of time. However, these cost money and that immediately throws a lot of people off. Isn't one big point of planning meals to save money? The upside to these sites is they send you everything you need to know: grocery list, recipes and many times, nutrition information. There are also free meal planners like SayMMM.com.
Another way to do this is look at what your family is already eating. You know what your family likes to eat, what you like to cook and what's easy. This is the kind of meal planning I do. I make a list of all the meals we'll be eating at home for two weeks. I check the pantry to see what we have and what we need in order to make a grocery list and only buy the things I need. We have a list of the meals we have supplies for and based on the day, I pick a dinner in the morning. I use my crock-pot A LOT! It's easy to throw something into it in the morning and have dinner waiting that evening.
You can also print out a blank calendar or use one you already have. Decide how far in advance you want to plan and fill in the blanks. Some moms plan every meal and snacks. Others just plan dinners and weekend meals. It will vary according to your schedule and family size. You can also just make a list of meals for that week and pick out of that list each day, according to how you feel and what sounds good. You'll know that you already have the stuff to make that meal. We found a simple meal planning printable here.
A third way to plan is based on what's on sale that week. That doesn't mean you have to eat meals that you don't like, but you may need to be a little bit flexible using what is on sale and what you already have on hand.??Grocery ads in Colorado run from Wednesday through the following Tuesday or Wednesday to Wednesday in some cases. One suggestion is to get all the grocery ads and look through them to see what is one sale that week. You probably get most of the major store's ads in your mail. For instance, if chicken breasts are on sale at a good price that week, purchase some and use for a few meals that week. If it is a rock bottom price on chicken breasts, stock up or stockpile some in the freezer for later use.
As you can see meal planning isn't necessarily easy, but if you find a plan that works for you it will get easier. We'd love to hear what your favorite meal planning websites are. Did you create your own way to plan meals? Tell us about it in the comments below.