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Meal Planning

Hello All!

Happy Monday!

If there is such a thing…

Monday’s, lately, have been SUPER busy. Usually my husband has his list of things to do, which leaves me scrambling at the end of the day to grocery shop, cook, bathe the kids, etc. Fortunately, I didn’t have to cook tonight (Thanks Memaw), and I didn’t have a ton of stuff to get, even though I went to three different places.

Since I managed to meal plan AND grocery shop today, it inspired me to post about it, because typically that doesn’t happen. I usually get my meal plan up at least the day before. Never in the same day.

Before I go into my meal planning, though, let me give a little background. We have  a small family of four; My husband, my two daughters ages 3 years old and 3 months, and myself. We live on one income, and on budgets. Our grocery budget is included every two weeks when he gets paid, and we budget $160 for two weeks, roughly $80 a week.

Some may think that’s two little, some may think that’s too much. However, that is what we can feasibly do as of right now with the income we have coming in. and, by the grace of God, it works for us. We do have some help with milk and such through WIC, which is a blessing as well.

Back to the point…

With budgeting its essential for managing my spending and my sanity intact to meal plan. I don’t like going into the store all willy-nilly and not having any clue what I need for meals I haven’t even planned.

However, I have a love/hate relationship with meal planning. I love being organized, and even love the process to some extent, but with two small children sometimes it’s frustrating to get it done, and many a day I don’t get to even guesstimate up what I’m spending where before I go, the way I would like to.

Either way, its something that needs to be done, so if you are interested in my easy meal planning process, just keep reading.

I like simple. I don’t like to plan for two weeks, because to me its a hassle, and takes me way too long (kudos to those of you who can work it). Planning a month is out of the question. Plus, I feel like I’m missing out on possible good deals for that particular week, and I like good deals.

So I meal plan weekly, usually starting around Sunday/Monday -Saturday/Sunday.

When I began, I looked on Pinterest for a meal planning template, but they were all too detail specific. I like to keep it simple, as previously mentioned. I don’t want to over-complicate the process. In the end, I just ended up making my own template.

20170109_094612
Not the prettiest, but it works just fine for my inner minimalist 

As you can see, I have a place to show the dates of the week, a column for the days, lunches, and dinners. Honestly, I could lose the lunch column, and probably will in the future. Most days, lunches are a spur of the moment thing, kind of like a “what I feel like making/doing that day”. I just mentally make sure we have different ingredients for different lunches that week (i.e. bread, lunch meat, PB&J, chicken nuggets,) and many days we will eat leftover dinners from the previous night for lunch. It’s the same for breakfast.

20170109_094605.jpg
This is what my meal planning time consists of… the little one was asleep 🙂

So first thing I do is  begin getting ideas for meals that I want to do for dinners that week. So I get my handy-dandy cook book (that I’m still working on getting together, but I’m slowly adding recipes), I pull up Pinterest, and I also use meal plans from previous weeks. I keep them to see what I made and decide if there is something I want to do again. There are a few meals we keep in our rotation at least every other week. 20170109_094608.jpg

After I get my meals listed, I write down everything I need for each of those meals, and then I start looking up sales ads. I look up every sales ad for my local stores, but I typically hit up two stores in one shopping trip, and sometimes three on those rare special deals I can’t pass up.As I scan the ads, I’m writing down the deals: what store, the item, the price, and sometimes the package size so I can compare prices. I list anything that strikes my interest that week on top of specific things on sale that goes with my dinner plans.

20170109_095200.jpg
I love shorthand, btw. FG=Food Giant

Once I finish with that, I get another sheet and narrow down my list for each place. I meant to get a picture of my finished list, but I forgot (oops). It looks something like this, though.

FG (Food Giant)

Leg Q’s 10 lb bag .39/lb.
T-Bone steaks $4.99/lb

WM (Wal-Mart)

Sugar
(3) Tomato Sauce
(1) Kielbasa sausage

Publix

Apple sauce $2
Coffee Creamer B1G1 $3.99

That’s just an example of how I write it out. That’s what  I take with me to the store.

*Side note: many times I don’t list prices for Walmart, because I go there for the things that aren’t on sale at the other places. 8 times out of 10 they will be cheaper there.

And then I go shopping when I get the chance.

I know, this is so basic my nine-year-old niece could do it, but this is me. I need things simple and minimal. I don’t have time for pretty or complicated. But I hope it gave you some ideas for your own easy meal-planning process!

Thanks for Reading! 🙂

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