This topic is one of my favorite things!!! If you haven’t jumped on the meal planning train yet, give it a try!!! There are so many options that one of these ways to meal plan will work for your family.
Do you struggle with going out to eat or picking up take out more often than you’d like?
Do you find yourself making frequent trips to the grocery store?
Does food frequently go bad in your fridge?
Does your family eat more junk food than you’d prefer?
Are you so busy you don’t want to think about meal times?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, I think making a meal plan just might be the answer for you.
I might be strange, but meal planning makes me excited! I’m not stressed figuring out what I’m going to feed my family each night and it also helps me spend less. Our budget is tight enough that frequent trips for even fast food would prevent us from meeting our financial goals.
If you’ve had a failed experience with menu planning, don’t give up! Try again. Maybe attempt another method and keep tweaking until you have it figured out.
Today, I’m going to share a few different methods of meal planning that you can try!
7 Ways to Meal Plan
Themed Meal Planning
Come up with a theme for all 7 suppers and each week you simply select a recipe for each night that fits with the theme.
Some theme ideas are:
- Soup or Salad
- New Recipe
- Slow Cooker
- Freezer Meal
A pro of this method is that you don’t have to do as much thinking. You already know what kind of recipe you need for each day.
Seasonal Meal Planning
With this option, you come up with an entire month’s worth of meals for Summer, Winter, and Spring/Fall. You then repeat the same menu each month of that season.
The nice thing about this is that you do the work once and don’t have to think about it. On the downside, there’s not a lot of flexibility and you can’t use the grocery sales as effectively.
Freezer Meal Planning
Have all of your meals be freezer meals. You can do once a month cooking or try doing it twice a month. The bulk of your time in the kitchen will be over and done with all at once. Check out The Family Freezer for a ton of (healthy) recipe ideas!
Monthly Meal Planning
Sit down with your calendar and make a plan for the entire month. Leave a few days blank for leftovers or other plans that come up. You can do the bulk of your grocery shopping at once and just make some extra trips for produce during the month.
Bi-Weekly Meal Planning
Exactly the same as above, except you do it for 2 weeks at a time. I did this method for a while. It seemed more feasible for me than monthly meal planning. After a few years I made the switch to the next meal planning method.
Weekly Meal Planning
Each week sit down with the grocery ads and take inventory of what you already have and make a meal plan! It’s easier to take into account what the upcoming week is going to be like when you do one week at a time. This is what’s worked best for me in this season of life.
Meal Planning Service
There are a myriad of meal planning services out there. They send you a list of the recipes you will be making each week (and often a shopping list as well). I have not had a need to use this type of service, but if you do, here are some to check out!
- eMeals (recommended by Dave Ramsey)
- Plan to Eat
- Eat at Home (Money Saving Mom occasionally uses this one)
- $5 Meal Plan
- Simple Meals
- Once a Month Meals
- The Scramble
If you are interested in a meal planning service, be sure to take advantage of free trials to see if it is something that will actually work for your family. Also, research and see what sales these companies have done in the past! It might be beneficial to wait to sign up until one starts.
Let’s get going!
Pick a method to try or even combine 2 methods (maybe themed nights with weekly meal planning, for example). Commit to sit down and make a menu plan for next week and then stick with it. Tweak it the following week and keep adjusting until you find what will work.
If you get the hang of meal planning, you should find yourself saving money, eating better, and maybe even being less stressed!
What’s your meal planning method?