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Monday, January 8, 2018

Meal Plan with Us! January 2018

Meal planning has made life so much easier for us!
And it's seriously helped us in the budget department too.
We plan out about a month at a time. (We started with two weeks at a time in the beginning though because it totally takes practice to remember each ingredient you need and not have to make emergency trips to the grocery store for one single important item. I can definitely tell you we've gotten way better than we were in the beginning. We started in May last year.)

We go to the store once per month for our big grocery trip. Well, we go to two different stores. We go to Aldi and get everything we possibly can, then hit up Walmart for the remaining stuff. It still blows my mind how much we save by getting as much as possible at Aldi first!

Now that's not to say that's the only time we go to the store. We usually run out of milk somewhere in the middle of the month or somebody craves a particular item. We always end up going to the store for a handful of items later on, BUT the big shopping trip is taken care of in the first few days of the month.

We don't always stick to this schedule super strictly, especially since I'm pregnant and have cravings and aversions haha. I go through and cross off the meals we've already made for this reason. In case one night comes along and I'm like "holy crap, I do not want that for dinner!" we can choose another meal and switch.

Sorry for the sloppy writing, this is #RealLife right here.
Also, please don't get confused by the word "Saturday" at the top left hand corner, that's just a magnet.

Tips for only going to the store once per month:
1. Plan meals with fresh produce for the first half of the month.
For some, this is impossible. Maybe your "milk run" turns into a mid-month veggie run. We do keep some mixed vegetables frozen for sides though.

Meals that need fresh ingredients
Tacos (lettuce)
Philly cheesesteak (onion, pepper)
Italian chicken sandwiches (lettuce)
Buffalo chicken wrap (lettuce)
Quesadillas (bacon, onion, pepper)
Chicken nachos (lettuce)

2. Think of ways you can use leftovers or main ingredients in the same week.
Example: Roast on Saturday turns leftover roast meat into Beef and Broccoli on Monday
3. Make a list of all the meals your family likes so you can easily just glance at the list and choose what day to put meals on. We keep a list divided into a few categories so we can pick and chose which meals will work best on which days of the week, since some days just allow for more cooking time than others.

Easy meals, no prep
Hot dog mac
Sausage crescents
Grilled cheese
Breakfast for dinner

Full Crockpot meals
Crockpot chicken & potatoes
Chicken & dumplings
Potato soup
Stew (carrots)
Roast (carrots)
Pulled pork on hoagies

Partial Crockpot Meals
Beef & broccoli (frozen)
Ranch chicken taquitos

Regular meals (need prep)
Orange chicken & rice
Sloppy joes
Beef potato casserole
Baked pasta
Pasta con broccoli
Shrimp pasta
Taco casserole
Fried chicken & potatoes
Buffalo chicken flatbread
Breakfast pizza

4. Throw in a couple new recipes each month if you're feeling up to it, or if you're getting bored with the same stuff. I find it just keeps things interesting. It makes meal planning feel less monotonous. Chicken Ranch Taquitos was our new recipe for this month.
5. Plan to make big dishes over the weekend when you have time. Then use the leftovers during the weeknights when time is a little more scarce.
Example: Lasagna on Saturday turns into leftover Lasagna on Monday

So I really hope this was helpful and you were able to take a little bit of advice from it. Happy meal planning!


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