Meal planning isn’t always easy, but it’s a great way to stay organized. These 6 meal planning hacks are sure to save you time and money, which is something I always need!
With back to school season here, now is the time to get serious about meal planning. I’ve blogged before about meal planning and I still strongly believe that meal planning is a great way to stay organized and save money on food. It’s always a great way to reduce your food waste. Here are some of my favorite meal planning hacks to save you time and money.
6 Meal Planning Hacks to Save You Time and Money
Themed Meal Nights
This is my favorite. I do themed nights regularly and it helps me come up with a consistent and predictable, but not boring meal plan. Here is an example of themed nights that have worked for us:
Taco Tuesday (anything Mexican)
Crock Pot Meal for Wednesday & Thursday
Saturday: Breakfast for dinner
I like going by this schedule because it makes it easy for me to plan, but it doesn’t get boring either. You can easily mix these around. The reason I have seafood for Sunday is because that’s my grocery shopping day. I try to eat my freshest food first, then eat food that isn’t as fresh throughout the week.
Make a weekly schedule or a monthly schedule. If you are organized enough to plan out your entire month, do it!
I’ve used this free printable planner in the past. You can download this printable here.
But Don’t Over Schedule It- leave room for leftovers
Always leave a day for leftovers. If you don’t have leftovers, you can rely on your back up (see below).
Have a Back-Up
You’re back up can be something as simple as frozen pizza, or it can be picking up take-out. We try not to do take-out too often, but sometimes it is fun and completely worth it. Even if you want take-out to be your back up, I suggest always having a freezer meal or two on hand just in case!
Be willing to switch things around if dinner plans don’t work out one night. There are many nights that I plan one thing and end up going a different route. As long as you use your food that week, you are doing fine!
You don’t have to take inventory of your fridge and pantry every single week. I do, because I hate to waste food, however, once a month works fine. You can even implement a fiscal fast where you don’t buy any new food and just clean out the fridge, freezer, and pantry every couple of months.
Let Sales Direct Your Menu
Even with themed nights, you can let grocery store sales direct your menu. You can save the most money by checking out the sales before you plan your menu.
If you get out of the habit of meal planning, it’s pretty hard to get back into it. Then you get back into the rut of trying to figure out what’s for dinner just a few hours before meal time. Don’t let that happen. If you skip a week, try to get right back into it the next week!
If you have to go out to eat, make sure to follow these tips from the Outnumbered Father. He shares great tips and tricks for dining with kids, as well as some great money saving tricks.
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