I have been learning and changing the way I do things so often in the last few years, that I am honestly surprised my husband is so calm about it. He is not a fan of change, and boy do I change things up sometimes. I’ve talked a little bit about my minimal waste attempts (I say attempts because I sometimes get off track). Now I am working on my own version of meal planning. For the month of February ( two weeks so far) rather than getting our monthly groceries as we have for many years, and then running out far too quickly, I have started planning our dinners and shopping accordingly. I am so excited by this change that I really wanted to share it with you.
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The most difficult part of planning your meals is when you have indecisive people living together. Before meal planning It was such a chore every night to figure out what we were going to have for dinner. Now I am not saying the first week was easy because it most certainly wasn’t. However, now we plan it in advance on Friday evening and Saturday we grocery shop. Such a simple concept. This not only allows us to have meals in our fridge every day. It keeps us on budget and satisfied with food in the house all month long. That is honestly the best part. I love having fresh foods on hand all month long. It makes me deliriously happy.
Before Meal Planning
So, here it is. We get paid monthly. So ever since I can remember, we would go out on payday (because there was pretty much nothing left in the house by that point) and get massive amounts of groceries dependant on sales and the coupons I had. I was a stockpile junkie and a huge couponing addict.
The problem arose when we would get home and start realizing we could make this, but we’re missing that. Or we would have some meals, and I would have to improvise others. Other times, I would be so busy that we couldn’t decide till late, then I would be so frustrated that I wouldn’t want to cook, and we would just go out to eat. This was my life for the last few years, and I hated it. I still hate it. We overspent on food, which means no money to save away. Well, last month I finally had enough and changed the way we do things.
What I Have Learned From Meal Planning
Meal planning has really opened my eyes to how we were originally shopping. We would spend hours upon hours in many groceries stores, needlessly going up and down each aisle. Looking for things we forgot or things that looked like a good deal. Newsflash, if it’s not something you use that often, or you have never used. Even free is not a good deal. Space is still money, and so is time. Not only did this practice cost us money, but it cost us time as well. Something that should only take 2-3 hours at best, was taking us all day. Even then some days we wouldn’t be able to get everything, and we would have to go back yet another day. Wasting even more money.
Now I know exactly what I am getting at each store, and I plan out accordingly. This has saved us hours from our grocery shopping and a lot of stress. I now know what I am making every night, and I can decide if I want a bit extra for leftovers ie. lunch or not. I also always have leftover ingredients, and that helps with my other daily meals as well. This also allows for nothing to go bad in my fridge, pantry or cupboards. Which if you are a minimal waster like I am, is very important.
How To Meal Plan on ANY Budget
Every Friday, I spend my spare thoughts thinking up meals for the week. My husband and I sit down and decide what we want for meals that week. I know that he is not home two nights a week, so I use those nights to use up things that he might not like, that we already have on hand.
Once I have a meal plan all ready for the week, I scour the fliers for our area and make a list. My all-time favorite app to use is ReeBee. I can scour the fliers and easily make a shopping list, even including my own categories, which is a bonus if you have something you need and you can’t find it in the fliers, or you know where you get it, but don’t have that category naturally. This way everything is all on my phone, and I don’t have anything to worry about except making sure my battery is charged and ready to go.
When I have that list and anything else we might need… shampoo, toilet paper etc. Then on Saturday, we head out and do our shopping. My husband rarely comes in the stores with me (which is a good thing) all I have to do is grab my list for each store, and I work my way through it. I no longer go from aisle to aisle, I only get what I need and head to the cash. I can usually get each store done in about 20 mins (MAX) now. Which when you have multiple stores to go to, saves quite some time. The big time saver though is definitely my lists for each store. I can not recommend this time saver enough.
Another thing I find quite helpful is bringing my own cloth bags, and using them when I’m shopping. I know exactly how many bags I need for each store, and I bring them in accordingly. This is a constant reminder not to get anything extra because it probably won’t fit. It’s also nice not to always grab a giant cart. If you have a few things and bring a bag. You can carry them, and don’t need a cart. I also take this as an opportunity to easily place any fresh produce straight in the bag rather than using a toxic plastic bag, that I will bring home and throw out.
I also try to buy as much of my needs at bulk stations as a Bulk Barn. They now allow you to bring in your own bags or containers, allowing for less waste. Just makes sure to read their guidelines. As they have to comply with health and safety as well. So things like pasta, grains, herbs & spices etc. all come from the Bulk Barn for us. This is a great saving because we won’t be buying more than we need. We won’t have packaging to throw out, and we won’t have to worry about where to put it when we get home. All of our jars already have a designated spot in our home.
Meal Planning Takeaway
Now, doesn’t that sound so simple and easy? I swear it is. Once you get the hang of it (especially if you are like me and only shop once a month) it will become second nature. Once that happens, do me a favor and start expanding your recipe library. It does a whole lot of good not to have to worry about constantly repeating meals, and getting sick of them. For instance this week, we will be trying a veganized French Onion Soup. Something I used to make a fair amount that my husband absolutely adores. So wish me luck, because that’s Thursday’s dinner.