Do you grocery shop with intension, buying specific food for each meal of the week? I’m trying to be more fiscally conscious, so decided to meal plan again. I only started this process in the winter, though talked about it for years. Even then, I didn’t stick to a hard budget. I often rationalized that it was ok to make several trips to buy groceries because I ate clean. Now, that we moved into a new home I would rather spend the extra money on decorating rather than unneeded groceries. So, I decided to refocus my clean lifestyle towards making not only healthy, but also economical choices. Today, in an effort to eat well, save money and reduce stress, I grabbed the printable calendar and shopping list from my earlier meal planning experience. I found success in the past by gathering and creating a system with my family. Now, I’m armed and ready for our family meeting tonight to discuss eating clean while on a budget.
Here are some of our strategies on how to start healthy meal planning in just a few steps.
How to Start Healthy Meal Planning in Three East Steps
1. Brainstorm: Gather your family, friends or significant others and brainstorm healthy meals and snacks. Grab cookbooks, smart phones and find recipe ideas that look easy and yummy. Save this master list to plan for future weeks. Some of my favorite resources include Jessica Seinfeld’s Double Delicious: Good, Simple Food for Busy, Complicated Lives, Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Kitchen: 150 Plant-Empowered Recipes to Ignite a Mouthwatering Revolution and FoodNetwork.com.
2. Schedule: Make a calendar grid and schedule what you will potentially eat each day. We created a weekly calendar (a table in Microsoft Word) and then scribbled meals and snacks into appropriate boxes. This doesn’t have to be final, it just gives you an idea the meals of the week. Why this is an important step is because it will help you understand how much you need to purchase at the grocery store. When I don’t think about what we actually need for the week, I truly overspend by at least $50. It’s also a huge stress reliever to know what I can prepare for school lunches or dinners beforehand.
3. Create A Shopping List from Your Schedule: Look through the items on your calendar as well as the recipes and write down the ingredients for your grocery shopping list. I’ve found the key to saving money is to only buy what is on my list.
My son and I had a blast with our family brainstorm, skimming through cookbooks and apps. When in a rush, which is often, my 8-year old jots down ideas of his favorite foods and creates the list for me. We try not to overthink it, we just talk to each other and create a quick list.
Here’s a printable of our meal plan and shopping list for the week. Since I’m vegan, my son has food sensitivities and my husband likes meat, we often eat different meals. This meal plan was my way to keep them all coordinated.
What would it take for you to meal plan? Try it for one-week and see how it works within your life.
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