It seems like every time I’m on social media I find an abundance of meal planning tips and ideas. I always appreciate them, because I’m just learning this aspect of “adulting” myself. It should be straightforward, right? Buy the groceries you’ll need for a week of healthy, hearty meals and stay inside your budget. Wrong. The best way for me to learn how to meal plan has been through trial and error. Here are a few things I’ve learned that you can use in your own planning.
Break your planning into small chunks. For me, sitting down to plan out every single meal for the week can be overwhelming, but weeknight dinners seem more manageable. From there, I think through my schedule: If it’s a busy week, I focus more on crockpot meals or dishes with very short prep times. If we have a little more free time, I’ll add in a new recipe or two. Once I have dinner menus planned, I move to the other meals and snacks. Will there be leftovers from dinners or will I need to buy other items for lunches? How are we doing on breakfast food? Fruits and vegetables? For inspiration from additional perspectives, read some additional meal-planning tips that others have shared.
Recently, my husband and I have fallen into a pattern. Every week, we pick one or two meals from each of these categories: Mexican, Italian, Asian and American. We have a few favorite recipes in every category and just swap them out from week to week. This gives us some variety and makes planning simpler. To make sure I don’t make the same thing three weeks in a row, I keep an ongoing note on my phone with a list of recipe ideas at the top and the meals I choose each week at the bottom. This way I can see what I’ve made recently and have a list of ideas ready for me to pick from. One size does not fit all for meal planning though, so here are some other ideas in the form of printable templates to help with a variety of planning needs.
Meal planning wouldn’t be so difficult if it weren’t for that budget. I’m still working on balancing mine every month, but I’ve learned a couple of tricks that have helped. Meat is one of those purchases that adds up fast for us, so even though I won’t use two pounds of ground beef in one meal, I’ll still buy the two-pound pack because it’s a better price per ounce. I’ll just brown it all and freeze the extra pound for later. I try to make sure we’re eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, but those also get pricey. To help with this, I look through the weekly grocery store advertisements and base my choices almost entirely around what sales are going on. Here are some more tips for grocery shopping on a budget.
You can gather some more tips at our next Adulting: Meal Planning class! You’ll learn about planning a weekly menu, shopping lists, adjusting for changes in plans and more. Click the button below and type the class name into the search bar, or call 405.377.3333. To find out about more courses like this sign up for our monthly e-newsletter. View all of our upcoming courses in our digital catalog.
Abby McCain is the Communications and Marketing Secretary at Meridian Technology Center.