Be sure to not overwhelm yourself. Start simple. Work with what you already know how to cook or prepare. Don’t try to learn new recipes now. You’re just trying to learn the process of meal planning and limited grocery procurement.
Here’s what I did.
First – Brainstorm
I wrote down all the meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) I could think of that I knew how to make. I put all the groceries needed for that dinner. Sadly, this was not a very long list, but it was something. You can click here to see my list.
Second – Lay out one week plan
I made myself a form for one week. Click here to download my blank form. Its just a quick and easy excel file.
I put meals in each slot of my plan and tried to make them fit other activities going on in my week. Such as, ballet lessons at 3:30 on Tuesday meant that Tuesday’s dinner needed to be easy and quick to fix. Click here to see a sample of one of my weeks filled in with meals. I also tried to tie lunch to the previous day’s dinner. Chicken for dinner? Put in a couple extra pieces and then have chicken sandwiches, chicken salad, or chicken on salad for lunch the next day.
Third – Grocery List
Making a grocery list from the menu is crucial for two reasons. First, it guarantees you will have what you need to actually make that meal you planned. Starting dinner and then realizing you don’t have all the ingredients can completely upset dinner, the rest of the evening, and spoil your mood! Second, it a budget lifesaver! While the list will look large when you make it for a week’s worth of meals, its amazing how much it will save you not going to the store more than once a week.
Growing Beyond Basic.
When you’ve gotten this basic system going using meals you already know how to cook, you can then start to grow and expand the whole process. Add meals you don’t know how to cook, but I recommend at the most only one new recipe a week.
New recipes are overwhelming until they are mastered and more than one can throw the whole week off. Not just your groove, but your budget.
Get new recipes from friends and relatives, but another great place is the web.
I love getting 16 minutes meals from The Pioneer Woman. Now 16 minutes meals will take you more than 16 minutes until you master them. Plan for that and remember to only add one per week. Its enough! You’ll be surprised how fast you’ve grown that original “meals I know how to make” list.
I have long tried to improve our eating habits and following healthy eating habits. One great source is “Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats” by Sally Fallon.
Something new I’m trying. Recently I found a blog called Nourished Kitchen who is putting into practice those methods and has a great database of meals, recipes, and food preparation techniques, as well as a cookbook, “The Nourished Kitchen: Farm-to-Table Recipes for the Traditional Foods Lifestyle Featuring Bone Broths, Fermented Vegetables, Grass-Fed Meats, Wholesome Fats, Raw Dairy, and Kombuchas”
The planning up front seems time consuming, but it will actually save you time all week when you don’t have to think about what your family will it or whether you have the ingredients you need to fix it.
We talked “Meals” at our monthly homeschool mom’s group yesterday and there were some GREAT ideas and recipes from a bunch of moms. There are two resources from our afternoon chat that I just have to share here.
Jill mentioned emeals and it’s awesome! It’s also recommended by Dave Ramsey. It has meal plans, recipes, and shopping helps. More helps than I can list so please, check it out. The great thing about meal planning is that it saves you time, money, and frustration. Plus you eat well. Seriously, taking the time to plan really does save time later and you spend less money!
Another great idea from Jill was to include your meals in your homeschooling! Here’s a book she recommended for tying your meals to history and geography studies – Eat Your Way Through the USA. While you’re having fun cooking, eating and learning history/geography, remember cooking and grocery money management are great ways to experience real math! Three school topics covered right there!
Start now and make meals for your family not only yummy for everyone, but less stressful for mom!
After you get going, please get back to me here and let me know how its working for you.
Jill’s recommendation: Eat Your Way Through the USA