Thank you for all of the wonderful tips you ladies provided about meal planning. I found them so useful and so easy to incorporate into my life. You guys made it really sound easy.
I was also pleased to hear that I wasn't the only one who struggles with this, so I decided to share with you a few of my favorite suggestions I received...
Kristin says: I've found that having the ingredients for 4-5 different dinners works well.
Tamara says: I try to carry over ingredients to at least two meals - like if I buy carrots, celery, onions... I'll try to make chicken pot pie one night then maybe chicken noodle soup the next.
Lia says: I like to have at least 3 tentative meals. That way I can switch them up on days that I'm in the mood for that cuisine!
Carol says: With my new schedule I started putting my workouts on my calendar, and at the top of the day I plan out my meals on Sunday for the week.
JMc says: If I'm planning for the week I plan 7 meals. Then I can make those 7 meals any day that week but I know I have at least enough ingredients for that. Then on Tuesday night I can decide to make a chicken dish on Wednesday and thaw meat. I don't have to totally plan that far ahead. Usually anything with fresh veggies gets prepared at the beginning of the week so nothing goes bad. Toward the end of the week we may have more canned or frozen veggies mixed into the meals. It takes time to really get a good rhythm.
Lindsey says: CROCK POT!!! It is a life saver on the nights that are busy. I like to cook a whole chicken in the crock pot and then shred the meat and freeze it in different bags for different meals. It's cooked and ready to thaw when you need it.
Allison says: Every Sunday I sit down and make a meal plan for the week. I scour pinterest and use recipes I already have and love. A lot of times I look for recipes that don't call for a lot of new ingredients as then I tend not to make them since I have to buy 100 spices, oils, etc.
Kendall says: Mostly it's taking the time once a week to plan it out. I've also identified a few meals that I can make easily as long as I have a few basic staples on hand (so I make sure I've always got them for when I'm in a pinch and haven't made any menu plans)! Click here for her guide.
Laura J says: I think it often depends on how accessible the grocery store is (or how many trips you are comfortable making). My grocery store is literally around the corner, so I usually have various proteins in the freezer, but make a trip for veggies and other little things every 2 days. That way, I don't buy 2 tons of veggies on a Sunday only to have them all spoil by the time Saturday rolls around.
Melissa Jo says: I always try to keep some different proteins in the house, most of the time I repackage them into '1 meal' portions in freezer bags, label them and freeze until needed. I also stock up on the bags of frozen veggie medlies. Bird's eye normally is the best quality. Keeping pantry staples around works for quick throwing something together like a bag of stuffing cubes, "cream of" soups, different seasoning packets, sauces and chicken broth.
Jamie says: I make it my mission to cook Monday-Thurday and that's it. If I do more, great, if not, I've met my goal for the week.
Emily says: One thing we like to do before we grocery shop is try to make a plan for the entire week - and we shop to that plan. It helps us stick to what we've planned and that way we aren't spending $ on things that don't go with our plan.
Kelsey says: I usually pick out about 5-8 meals we really like and buy the stuff to make each meal 1-3 times that month. Any time that month that something sounds good I will have the items on hand. We eat a lot of chicken and salmon so those are always in the freezer. I only buy fresh produce weekly! I usually have meals as follows weekly.......1 Mexican dish, 2 pasta dish, 3 soup (now that it is colder), 4 chicken with side like salad and carb, 5 Fish with sides.
Leah says: I love the May Book menu planner. They have a menu on one side and grocery list on the other. I plan my meals on Saturday or Sunday. I try to make 2 new meals a week and the rest that are tried and true from Simply Made with Love. I always do at least 2 crockpot meals. I try to reuse ingredients for multiple meals.
Meghan says: On the weekend, I plan out our meals for the week, which is usually 3-4 meals that make a lot of leftovers. Then I make a list and we shop once a week. Once in a while, one of us has to go to the store for something, but that's pretty rare. If I know I have a busy week, I'll make a big batch of soup or pasta that we can have for a few days and then supplement it with fresh veggies.
I hope these wonderful suggestions will help you too! Now, I'm ready for the grocery store!