One of the hardest things I find with cooking food is figuring out what to cook. Am I the only one with this problem? I really don’t mind cooking but to me deciding what to cook is another story. And I have finally figured out something that makes the deciding part easier. Now the concept of it should make since the key is Meal Planning. But let talk about how to meal plan the easy way!
I have been meal planning for over 5 years off and on. But everything I was trying, I did not love. It was not as easy as I wanted it to be. I needed something easier!
And finally after years, I finally have a system that works for me! Now everyone is different but I really hope that something I am doing with my meal planning will help you. To start, here are some questions you might have.
DO I NEED TO MEAL PLAN?
If you are on the fence about really needing to meal plan. I will tell you first hand that you need to. Not only will it help you save MONEY (you’re not going to the store all the time or buying whatever you want) but it will help make your life easier. I have been in both places and I will tell you it is so so nice to have your meals all planned ahead of time.
Now this really depends on what works best for you. Some people like planning their meals once a week and they do this around sale ads. I love the idea but guess what, it does NOT work for me. I only want to plan my meals once a month. Normally before the new month. TIP: It’s easier to plan when you’re a little hungry!
HOW TO MEAL PLAN THE EASY WAY
Before I had a lot more steps to my planning but now its simple. To set things up it does take some time but in the long run it will save you time. There are some supplies you will need to help you simplify your planning. So here is a list. Some links in this post are affiliate link for your convenience, click here to read our full affiliate policy.
- calendar (dry ease and magnet board)
- magnet sheets
- printer & computer
- clear spray paint
- scissors (regular kind!)
- plastic storage container
I tried to create my own calendar with some sheet metal from the hardware store. But come to find out, dry ease marker would remove my paint I used on the metal. So after everything I went and purchased a dry ease magnetic calendar from the store. LESSON LEARNED BY ME: Save yourself the hassle and just buy it from the store.
Once you have your calendar you can now create your own meals on magnets. To do this open up a Word doc (or whatever your computer has) and create a table. Space the table to the distance of your calendar. But to save you some time how about I just share my doc! You need to be an email subscriber to access the file.
With the printable the months and days are already there, so just type in you sides and main meals.
TIP: Make you meals color coded by the type of meat (beef, chicken, etc…) or by the type of food (American, Chinese, Mexican, etc…). I did not do this but I now wish I did!
TIP 2: Have extra of different sides (corn, green beans, etc…) and plan on an eat out, gone/vacation, leftovers, and new (new is for new recipes!).
Then print out the file onto the magnet sheet with your regular printer. Make sure to not touch the sheet after printing, I found that the ink would smear. To solve that problem, take the clear spray paint and paint the top of the sheet. After that dries, cut out the magnets with a regular pair of scissors (or rotary cutter).
I purchased a plastic bead container to store all the magnets when they are not being used. Plus hang the calendar somewhere easy to see each day.
At the end/beginning of every month, I redo the calendar. First I clear the board and move the dates around. I then label the days that we will be gone and look at my schedule to see what day I need fast meals (I write a “F” at the bottom corner to remind me). Then I go through all the magnets and add meals that sound good. I will do this with my husband, by myself, or have him do it all. I then add in the side dishes and write in new recipes that I want to try for the month (Pinterest is a great source for this!). This probably takes me 5-10 minutes to do this.
And that is my meal plan for the month.
SIDE NOTE: On the note side of the calendar, I write items we need for next months shopping list.
I don’t stop there! I like to do my big shopping trip at the first of the month. So anything that can be purchased weeks before (pasta, cans, etc…) is added to my grocery list, for the first week of the month. Then for the other weeks, I just buy produce, dairy, and breads.
I have even created a shopping list that I print out every month. It breaks things up into different categories to make shopping easier. But how about I give you your own copy? Again you need to be a subscriber!
This is a Word Doc so that you can add or take away things!
Once I have filled out the shopping lists I am ready for the store and my meals for the whole month. This method also helps me plan on the cash I need in my budget for that month.
I have been using this calendar method for about 8 months and I LOVE it. I hope this will help you plan your meals plus save you time and money each month.
Do you have any tips to meal plan? Or questions?
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