I am sure you have all heard about Oprah and her ‘Aha’ moments, well I recently had one of my own. I started meal planning! Nothing will ever be the same. I had NO idea how much stress and worry would leave my life by this simple act. Now that I have become a stay at home mom of twin toddlers, I was finding that ‘adult’ dinner was typically left to the last minute in the day. It was time to take control. Instead of trying to plan meals on the fly and dreading the daily: What’s for dinner ?! I finally sat down and started to plan.
Meal Planning Apps and Websites
I found a great downloadable shopping list where you can list out what you need from each section of your grocery for every recipe.
By listing items in each category it makes your trip around the store so much quicker and focused. I even took it a step further and once I had listed out each required ingredient, I went through my fridge and pantry to determine what I already had. Only things I needed to buy were highlighted and actually purchased for the week.
Being that I had never really planned meals before, I left myself open to what meal I actually felt like making any given night of the week – it was my way of continuing to honor my fly by the seat of my pants, wild side. I made sure that some meals were super easy, at least one was a slowcooker and at least one other was something new and slightly challenging. Then we would take stock at the end of the week and decide which ones were keepers for our family and which ones were losers.
It was actually fun!
As for finding recipes, I actually enjoyed having a reason to look through my old magazines and plethora of cookbooks for ideas and signed up for email alerts to yummy week night recipes like the ones through this recipe finder at Real Simple magazine.
As my meal planning prowess started to blossom I ventured into the world of apps and now I swear by ZipList. I really like this app because it stores recipes as well as helps you create a grocery list for when you are at the grocery store, much like my downloadable form.
Another of my favorites is the site Supercook because you can just type in what you already have on hand and it will create a recipe around your ingredients! Dinner Spinner is supposed to be great for this as well and Allrecipes is a wonderful resource for recipes in general.
The best part of all of this planning was the financial savings! Instead of doubling up on ingredients because I didn’t know what was in my fridge and pantry for any given meal on any given day, buying only the needed ingredients saved us close to $200/month on our food bill. That is substantial for a young family now on one income.
It may not be the sexiest topic on earth but the numerous benefits such as reduced stress, dollars saved and a family well fed is well worth the hour a week it takes to set the culinary course for the next 7 days.
Here’s to happy meal planning!