Who doesn't want to save time and money?
The idea of meal planning is exhausting to me! Unless you're really in love with cooking, I would think it would be for most of us. Not only is it an insanely repetitive chore that goes pretty thankless most of the time, it adds more horribly annoying chores including, but not limited to, dishes and grocery shopping! Lucky us. But keeping our family nourished and running is an important task and somebody's gotta do it right?!
With this in mind, I am always trying to find ways to make it easier on me. I usually try to meal plan 1 week at a time but this month I switched it up a little bit in hopes of stretching out our chances at better meals towards the end of the pay period so we can eat more balanced. Instead of this mindset....
I successfully edited a calendar that I found on Microsoft word (If you don't have Word you can search on Pinterest for editable calendars; you can even find cute ones!). I chose a calendar that I could put a picture on and I put an autumn color scheme on it since we're in September already!
Here's an example of the calendar.....
I started a little late in the month but it has been very successful! I purchased everything I need for the next half of the month on the 15th.
If something else sounds good, we just trade nights. If my son is being particularly clingy and I can't cook, my husband can easily see the plan on the fridge AND where to find the recipe, which brings me to my next point. Notice in the next picture that under each recipe I added a short clue of where to find each recipe. Taste of home, my own personal recipe binder or another cookbook.
Sweet and simple. I've been using this same idea lately with breakfast and lunch also since my husband now works from home and I have an 18-month-old son that won't stop eating and growing! I tried not to panic as I purchased 2 1/2 weeks worth of groceries yesterday but spending a little more at the grocery store for little snacks here and there will save you a lot over time if you're just gonna stop at 7-eleven and grab a snack anyways.
The reason I like this system is it cuts down on unnecessary trips to the store which can be difficult with a toddler and a busy life style. Also, cutting down on those trips cuts down on unnecessary "impulse buys" which will have you irritated at yourself 3 days till payday when you're on a tight budget.
(IMPORTANT TIP: When you're working this hard to be good and stick to your budget, remember to reward yourself every once in a while. We try to schedule at least 1 night a month to go out as a family even if it's an inexpensive treat. If dinner isn't in the budget try an ice cream trip, etc.)