For years our family went to Wegmans with no particular meal plan in place for the week. We would load the cart up with fresh fruits/veggies, meats, dairy products, etc. and then just "wing it" when it came to preparing meals for the week. The trouble was that often times we wouldn't have all the ingredients that we needed for a particular meal, and without a specific plan we often didn't use everything we purchased before it would expire.
After countless conversations about the amount of waste of food and MONEY... we decided it was time that the Smiths started meal planning. While it can be intimidating at first... once you get these simple steps down, it's super easy! An added bonus is that no one has to ask "What's for dinner..." because it is planned & posted each week for everyone to see.
Step 1: Print out a Meal Planner (or grab a blank sheet of paper and label the days of the week).
[Another great idea is to put a single Meal Planning page in a frame to keep on your kitchen counter. You can use an Expo marker to write out the meals on the glass and simply erase when the week is over]
Step 2: Look at your calendar for the week - if there are nights when there is lots going on, think SIMPLE. Sandwiches; Soups; Salads; Breakfast for Dinner; Crockpot Meal...
If your nights look free, anything goes when it comes to the menu. Perhaps simple meals are still important OR maybe you want to try something that takes a little more time to prep.
Step 3: Based on your calendar for the week, decide what's for dinner and write out your Meal Plan. While some families write out a meal plan for breakfast, lunch & dinner - we limit ours to dinner only.
[We keep a list of tried & true go to meals to make meal planning easier - to grab a copy of our list for your own meal planning, send a request to me through the FREE Organization Tips link on my website. A Pinterest board for recipes also makes planning easy!]
Step 4: Make out your grocery list based upon your Meal Plan for the week and head to the store. Be sure to check the fridge, freezer, pantry and/or cupboards to ensure you aren't buying things you may already have for the week.
... and now the real test is sticking to the plan during the week. The Smiths are guilty of occasionally calling for take-out or going out to dinner during the week regardless of the plan in place. Hey - some days are more stressful than others and who wants to make dinner on those days?! Don't be too hard on yourself.