Before the Pie was born, our meal planning started when the Husband & I returned home from our respective jobs around 7:00pm…starving. We aren’t nice people when we’re hungry. Not nice at all. So we implemented this system: one of us would offer three restaurant suggestions, then the other would choose from those three. Off we went to procure our supper. This often meant spending $20-40 on a meal that we weren’t even very excited to eat. But, with our lifestyle at that time, planning ahead to eat at home just didn’t seem worth the time.
Pre-Pie, in the world of youth & children’s ministry, I worked strange, long hours that often included evening meetings or events. During the program year, I was guaranteed to be working through dinner on at least two nights each week. Pre-Pie, we loved spontaneous dinners with friends. So, it wasn’t always worth going to the grocery store (let alone meal planning) for only 2 or 3 nights worth of dinners.
Now, with the Pie in our lives, it’s actually much easier to cook and eat at home than it is to try to go out to dinner with a nine month old running the show. First of all, the Pie has a bedtime routine that begins at 6:15pm. So, she eats dinner at 5:00pm, usually long before the Husband is home from work. Though we do love a good geriatric, early bird special dinner at 4:45pm, most often, it’s just not feasible. Not to mention, with a 9 month old in tow, you never know what kind of impression you’re gonna make on your fellow diners. Sooooo, home sweet home is our number one restaurant these days.
If I’m being completely honest here, I have to admit that I really don’t miss eating out. Thanks to Pinterest, I’m cooking all kinds of delicious stuff at home. Most of the time, it’s healthier than restaurant fare, and even when it’s not, I have much more control over my portion size (because if it’s on my plate, I’m gonna eat it).
Here’s my process for meal planning:
- Obsessively check pinterest on my phone all week long and pin any yummy looking stuff to my “Party in my Tummy” board.
- On Saturday evening, I check out Kroger’s weekly sales online. Then, look for corresponding recipes on my “Party in my Tummy” board. I’m not married to using only sale items, but for pricier items (like pork tenderloin), I wait for a sale.
- After choosing three recipes, I move them to my “Tried & True (Or Not So True)” board.
- I copy & paste each of the three recipes into a google doc so that I have them all in one place. Then, I can reference it from my phone or laptop while cooking.
- After cooking each meal, I update the pin on my “Tried & True (Or Not So True)” board with any changes, recommendations that I have for the recipe.
My goal is to only have to cook three days per week. Each meal should yield enough leftovers for another meal. Then, on the seventh day (when even God rested), we have frozen pizza, a meal from the freezer or something else ridiculously easy.
I truly believe that meal planning is helping us to save more money and waste less food. Most weeks, I am able to accomplish my goal of only one grocery shopping trip, which means less impulse purchases! I don’t clip a crazy amount of coupons, and I don’t buy a million bottles of shampoo just because they’re on sale. My weekly grocery bill is around $120-140, which accounts for 7 days worth of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for 2 adults and a nine-month-old (who eats A LOT), which is a lot less than when we were consistently paying $20-40/meal just for dinner when we ate out.
So, that’s how I do it. It works for me. How do you plan your menu?