Standing in the kitchen, staring blankly into the refrigerator around 5 pm… with not a clue what I am about to try and put together for dinner. This was a nightly ritual.
So at the beginning of last year, I said that I was going to start writing out our meals for the week and buying all the ingredients at once. Meal plans. This small task has saved me as a mama of three! Now I go to the store once for the entire week with all of our meals written out and planned — breakfast, lunch and dinner for the following seven days. I have all of the ingredients needed in one column and the actual meals listed out in the other. This not only saves time but it also saves money!
I bought a meal planner to help me plan for the week and it has been fabulous. This has been so incredibly helpful while having a newborn and two toddlers, who happen to be picky eaters, in the house. I am no longer just standing at the cabinet around dinner time hoping that I have the right items to pull together a meal. It is all planned beforehand! Here a few things I learned when starting to meal plan:
1. “Shop your pantry.” I just learned this term. It basically means, look at your long list of ingredients and cross off the ones you already have! This will keep you from buying more than you need.
2. Break your meals into breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack categories. You can also get specific and list out the items you are shopping for by aisles to save you time once you are actually at the store.
3. If you are trying to stay on a specific budget while shopping, you can also add a section of “wants.” Maybe extra snacks or fun desserts for the week that you can plan to have around the house.
4. Search Pinterest and cookbooks for new meal ideas! This will help you stay creative and will help you avoid repeating meals.
5. Meal planning is also extremely helpful if you plan on making your own baby food! Making and storing your own is a great option!