How to meal plan with little effort

What’s for dinner? How to meal plan with little effort

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Have you ever asked yourself the question What’s for dinner tonight? Then have no idea what the answer was going to be. It’s a pretty frequent problem around my home and with school starting up again only a couple weeks I’m determined to have more order and to figure out how to meal plan better when it comes to having dinner ready every day. 

Cooking is one area where I have very little talent or skill. I just really don’t enjoy cooking and I’m not much of a foodie so big elaborate meals are not what I’m ever looking for. More often than not I will end up throwing some chicken strips in the oven or making a sandwich. Something quick and that will fill us up. My daughter likes cooking though so I want us to try to plan our meals a little more and get a bit more creative with dinner. 

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Where to look for meal ideas

You probably have a few standard dinner ideas that your family eats and those meals get made a lot. The problem is that those dinners are getting kind of boring and you need some new ideas for what to make for dinner. 

That’s why a few months ago I signed up for $5 Meal Plan. We signed up at the beginning of summer and since his summer was so crazy busy we haven’t been able to try out many of the meals. When you sign up you get a weekly meal plan sent to you with recipes and a shopping list.  

Of course, you can also find lots of great dinner ideas on Pinterest and I even share 30 easy dinner ideas in this post. My goal is to start taking more of the dinner ideas from $5 Meal Plan and mixing in our favorites. That way we get to try new things and stop eating the same dinners week after week.

For more meal planning ideas and tips check out my meal planning Pinterest board which is always being added to.

Make a shopping list

Once you plan out dinner for the week it’s time to make a grocery list. I hate making a list and to be completely honest with you I’m horrible at sticking to our grocery budget.  My husband is much better at it than I am which is one of the reasons why I’m going to work on getting better at meal planning. So I can bring our food spending down and prove to him that I can stay on budget.   

Sometimes you just want to prove somebody wrong. 

So I’m starting meal planning with the beginning of the school year which for us starts today! First by choosing what’s for dinner the rest of this week and next week. Since the first week is only Wednesday through Friday I’m doing this week and next week together. Then the next step is making my grocery list. 

 Make planning your meals a breeze with the meal planning kit

How to meal plan step by step

  1. plan out 30 minutes once a week to meal plan 
  2.  choose what to make for dinner each night of the week 
  3. if you have a particularly busy or hectic night this is a great night to make a meal in the slow cooker 
  4. write out or type up and print your meal plan for the week and put on the fridge or somewhere else you will see it daily
  5. make a shopping list to get all the items you need for meals. 

Using a slow cooker

In step 3 above I mention using a slow cooker, which is one of the best ways to get a good dinner ion the table on those nights when you know you just won’t have time to cook.  We probably use our slow cooker once a week.

I love knowing that I can throw ingredients in it in the morning and not have to think about it at all and dinner will be ready that night.  Here are some of my favorite slow cooker meals to make. 

 Make planning your meals a breeze with the meal planning kit

I’m trying to start menu planning as well. I need to cut back on grocery spending. It’s one of the only things that we regularly spend money on that we can cut back on to save some money. So I’m trying to find a menu planning system I like so I can make grocery lists for exactly what we need and then I will move on to learning to use coupons to their fullest. There are a bunch of different menu planning ideas out there. What I’m looking for is one that doesn’t involve me having to do a lot of writing. I don’t have the ability to write due to my disability. Also I want something I can get my daughter involved in. Here are a few I’m going to maybe try:
meal planning magnets I really like this one and if I have time next week with all the party prep I think I will make these up because I have everything on hand to make them.

magnet idea #2 This is really cute and if I can find the magnetic paper to print on maybe I will give it a try.

menu board I really love that the cards have the ingredients needed right on the back so you have them right there when you are making your grocery list. Also her board is really adorable.

All three of these ideas are good ones. I’m going to try them one at a time and see which one works for me.

Does anyone have any menu planning tips that work for them? We’ve always been a just fix whatever we have type of family but now that money saving is such a big priority I think planning, grocery lists and coupons are going to have to be our new way of life.

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