The Little Red Owl

DIY ideas for home, health, & life

Hello and welcome.

Today I am going to share with you how I meal plan.

Let’s dive in!

Every month, I grab my recipe binder, cookbooks, and calendar and sit down to make a meal plan. Now, this may seem like work to some of you-but let me assure you-IT IS WORTH IT! This saves me time, money, stress, and a waist line!

By creating a monthly meal plan I know a few truths:

  1. I will be more conscious of what food I have on hand and therefore less likely to let food go to waste.
  2. Husband and I will eat home cooked meals all week long (even when we are too tired to think, let alone come up with what to have for dinner)
  3. We will save money (by not going out to eat and eating what food we already have)
  4. We can try new things!

Where to start?

First things first: I would suggest gathering all your recipes into one central location, this way they are easy to grab and easy to remember. I use a black pocketed binder as my recipe binder. It isn’t all that pretty but it stands up nicely AND wipes clean! My strategy is simple: find a recipe I like, print it out or rip it out, 3 hold punch it, and add it to my binder in the correct category.

My categories include: Miscellaneous, Drinks, Dessert, Main dish, breakfast, Bread, Sides, and Dog

Obviously you can modify these categories to fit you and your family’s needs. If you do not make homemade bread-then do not include it in your list. I am noticing now that I need to add a Condiment and a Snack category. One of these days…

Secondly- I have a monthly dinner calendar for the fridge. Again, this helps Husband and I stay on the same page regarding dinner and it ensures we will eat dinner at home-which is healthier and cheaper than eating out.

I found a blank calendar free printable online here, which I then laminated so I can use it again and again (recipe to come for homemade dry erase board cleaner).

I only use this calendar to keep track of Dinner meals. My husband and I both work-so lunches are packed and breakfast is made in bulk and frozen-no need for a breakfast/lunch calendar.

Lastly: We do our grocery shopping early Saturday or Sunday mornings, and it takes no time at all. We simply look at the weeks planned meals, compare what is needed with what is already in the pantry and add to the list anything that is missing. I also have a master grocery list, broken down by store, saved on Google docs-I can check that to ensure I am not forgetting any staple items.

That’s all there is to it. I know many people write a lot more down regarding their meals but it seems I do not need that and it ends up being time wasted. By keeping things simple I know I will follow through.

*Additional tips:

  1. I also made a simple list of our favorite meals to eat. This way, when I am at a loss for my monthly meal plan-I can go there for a tried and true dinner idea.
  2. I do go through my recipe binder every month or so to weed out any recipes I know I will not try and/or pull out ones I want to try.
  3. I do also include freezer meals in my monthly planning (more on that to come).

Do you meal plan? If so, what’s your strategy?


5 thoughts on “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail

  1. Rachael D says:

    I remember thinking you were superwomen for doing this when I saw the “dinner calender” on your fridge this summer :)

    1. Amy says:

      That’s nice of you to say-I am exactly the opposite of superwoman-that’s why I have to make lists (but I can fly-don’t tell anyone)

  2. Annie says:

    I suck at meal planning, haha. But these are great tips :)

    The Other Side of Gray

  3. Grandma says:

    Very good advice, Amy. I have a stack right now hoping I get around to doing just that. Making weekly menus. Some came from magazines and some from mailings. I know it won’t be too hard but I seem to put it off and move the stack back and forth from table to counter. I printed some calendars off to copy the meals onto. Just do it!!
    Also it was so nice the way you had a picture of your notebook with the tabs and all. Superb. I like it better than just putting copies down into plastic sleeves. I want to do it and get it over with.
    By the way you mention freezing lunches, do one on this.

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