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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Meal Planning

I recently started meal planning for my family, and it has made a big difference around my house. The evenings are less stressful, no one is asking “what’s for dinner?”, and dinner is always on time. Here are my tips for creating a meal plan.

1. Look at the weekly advertisements. Write down items that are on sale that your family likes. Search for coupons in a database, such as couponmom.com. You can also refer to a coupon match-up list, if you know of one for your store. These can be found easily by doing a Google search.

2. Take a look inside your pantry to see what ingredients you already have on hand. Write down some meals ideas based on items you want to buy and items you already have. If you have trouble with this step, there are many online recipes sources. AllRecipes.com is my favorite. You can search by ingredients you want or don’t want in a recipe. I usually start by choosing the protein for each meal and building the menu from there.

3. Are there any other items you need? Add them to your list. Don’t forget to search for available coupons.

4. Create your meal plan. Is there a recipe that you should double and freeze for later? Do you have a busy night when a slow cooked meal would be easiest? Do you have a slow night that you can take more time to cook?

Why do I meal plan?
· It saves time. I avoid mid-week trips to the grocery store to pick up missing ingredients. I also don’t waste time staring blankly into my refrigerator trying to concoct a recipe.
· It saves money. Impulse spending is reduced, and I am less likely to buy products that aren’t on sale.
· I waste less. I’ve found that planning ahead means less rotten food in the fridge.
· My family eats healthier. Writing a menu on paper makes it easier to see nutritional gaps.

Meal planning might sound daunting at first, but give it a try and you will quickly experience the benefits for yourself. Remember that your plan is not written in stone. You can switch up the schedule if you have to. Eventually you will be able to recycle your meal plans and spend even less time on the planning stage.

Check out Org Junkie for more information and recipes.

Thanks, Froogaloo! (If you haven’t signed up for Froogaloo yet, you should!)

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