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What Works for You: Meal Planning Edition

This post was actually inspired by this month’s Reader Request, which will be up on Friday.  I’ve been hearing for years how meal planning can save you time and money.  It can help you cut down on wasted food, and a whole variety of other facts, figures and useful tidbits.

 

Blog series: Finding what works for you in various areas of life!

 

I have a confession …. I only use meal planning to help me write our shopping list.  I write down a bunch of meals, and plan in some left over nights, but I don’t follow the plan, and sometimes, I change the plan! We’ve been trying some new stuff here at home, and I’m starting to think that with these changes, a more structured meal plan might be a valuable tool.  Because of this I’ve been digging around on the web to gain some insight and gather information for figuring out what this is going to look like for us.

Ummm… can I just say now, there is a ton, and I mean TON, of information out there on menu/meal planning.  In minutes I was overwhelmed by options, different ways to do it, different takes on the same style of planning…. the list goes on and on and on.  I cannot be the only one looking to change-up their meal planning, or looking to start meal planning.  So, I thought I would share some of what I found.

First things first.  What is menu/meal planning?  Why should I do it?  Where do I start?  I found this great article on Organized Home.  It walks you through the meal planning process in an easy to understand way.  If you’re just starting, it’s a great place to jump off from.  Or you could try this one from The Nourishing Home.  She has some wonderful ideas as well as some great strategies for getting the most out of your meal plan.

After you have an idea of what meal planning is, and how to do it, it’s time to start thinking about the way you do it.  What is it going to look like for your family, how often are you going to do it, etc….  To help, I pulled together a few links to share with you.

Good Cheap Eats has a fabulous article about meal planning for the whole month!  We do our shopping twice a month, so I always plan for two weeks, but this article made me start looking at the pros and cons of planning for the month.  I’m not sure a whole month of planned meals will work for us, but it’s something I toying with.

The most popular method by far seems to be weekly menu planning.  I found so many articles on how to plan for a week, but this one over at Echoes of Laughter, really caught my attention.  Angie shares not only how she plans for week night meals, but also some tips and tricks for making meal planning a success.

If you’ve made it to this point, checked out the links, and still aren’t sure meal/menu planning is for you, well check out this article from Money Saving Mom about grocery shopping once a week WITHOUT a menu plan.  This one was an interesting twist, and I found it interesting to read a different point of view in the “save money on the grocery budget” topic.

There really is so much more out there on the web.  You can find a ton of websites and services dedicated to just meal planning.  These are only a few I found and wanted to share.

So tell me, do you plan your meals?  Have any tips, tricks, or posts you want to share?   Or do you prefer to just wing it?  Any tips for making just winging it work?

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