Knowing how to make a meal plan is a wonderful way to organize your life and save money at the same time! It lets you always know what you’re cooking each day, helps you make a good shopping list, and lets you see how often you’re using a pricey ingredient, helping you to stick to your budget!
How to Make a Meal Plan
1. Figure out how many meals you need to plan.
Do you need to plan breakfast; do you always eat out on Saturday? Figure out your grocery budget, and see if there’s any ingredient you’d like to use less, or more often.
2. Decide how far in advance you want to plan.
Do you just want to plan for the coming week or the whole month? All ranges of time are doable, it just depends on how much work you want to put into your meal plan. Knowing how to make a meal plan also involves understanding how far you want to plan for in advance.
3. When you make a meal plan you’ll want to include your family’s favorite dishes.
So next, go through your cookbooks and Pinterest favorites and write down the name of everything your family eats regularly. Then make a second list, filling this one with recipes you make occasionally. Make one more list, writing down recipes you’d like to try. If any meal is big and likely to leave leftovers, put a star next to it. If there’s anything you’d like to make less often due to your budget, underline it.
4. With all of this information, you’re ready to make a meal plan!
You just need something to write on. Printable blank calendars and blank meal plan/menu plans are easy to find for free online. You could also use a chalkboard or dry erase calendar.
5. If you’re very familiar with your local grocery stores’ sales schedules, you can try to schedule your meals around sales.
This a great way to save even more money when you make a meal plan! If you don’t know the sales by heart you can schedule in a different way- Fill in the blanks on your calendar with your family’s favorite meals, skipping a day or two in between so you’re not eating your favorites every day and getting tired of them. If a meal on your list has a star next to it, write in “leftovers” for the following day. If a meal is underlined, think twice before adding it to the plan. Likely your family has a lot of favorites, but don’t feel that you need to include all of them in your meal plan. Whatever you don’t put in this plan can go in the next one.
6. Fill in the days between favorites with meals from your other two lists.
Remember to account for leftovers and to watch for underlined pricey meals. These are important for knowing how to make a meal plan that is functional for you. You could just fill the blank days in at random, or you could try to be a bit clever about it. For example, are you going to have to open a jar of tomato sauce for one dish, but you know you won’t use all of it? Then how about making a pizza the next day, so you can use that leftover sauce? Scheduling around excesses is a good way to keep food from going to waste, and a great way to make a meal plan!
Remember, when you make a meal plan you’re just making a plan. Things happen, so it has to be flexible. If you need to, swap meals around to account for changes. Even if you have to change your plan, it’s sure to still be very helpful! These tips for how to make a meal plan are great for getting you on track, staying organized, and of course, staying in budget.