Are you interested in meal planning? Do you often have good intentions to cook dinner but end up eating takeout? Or perhaps you go grocery shopping only to have a lot of your food go uneaten and then thrown out?
If you do, you are not alone.
In John 6:12-13, we read, “When they were filled, He *said to His disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.” So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.”
Meal planning is a great way to use the bounty God has provided. It can also help you waste less, save money, eat more nourishing food, and spend quality time with your family.
Below are easy ways you may begin to plan meals for yourself or your family.
Start by creating a master list of your family's favorite meals. Foods that your kids will eat or wouldn't mind enjoying the next day.
Then make a list of recipes or foods you would like to incorporate into your diet. This also includes foods you perhaps would like to remove, like processed foods or meals high in sugar.
Next, plan out dinners for the following seven days. Incorporating a “leftover”, day or a "take out" night and any other family meal traditions you have.
Your Christian Planner is a great place to write down your menu for the week. Other options are spreadsheets or wall calendars to place in your kitchen.
Go through your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer and clean it out. Dispose of or donate foods you cannot eat (if you have dietary restrictions etc.)
Next, make your grocery list.
When you go grocery shopping, do not go on an empty stomach. Stick to your list as closely as possible, be sure to bring your meal plan with you. If you do make an “impulse” purchase plan in the store where you will fit it in. Only buy foods on your plan and that you will eat.
Next, plan a “meal prep” day. This is the day you would chop any vegetables, clean meats, etc. This step is especially helpful if your weeknights are busy.
If time is short, try cooking or grilling meats you can use the following day, or preparing larger meals you can enjoy later in the week. For example, chili and cornbread can easily go into a "taco salad" the next night.
If this feels "too involved" but you still would like to have a plan. Try this tip from Carrie, a member of our Facebook group.
Plan your next family meal when you're cleaning up dinner. Be sure to use whatever is most perishable and any leftovers. As a bonus, you'll know what your family members' schedules will be like and you can consider that when making dinner plans. Pre-plan by ensuring you always have pantry staples on hand. Save money by reviewing store flyers and buying foods on sale. Carrie even likes to shop the "reduced for quick sale", as this is another layer to helping her family save money. Carrie says this allows her family to have virtually no waste.
A great way to modify the financial tracker to include a quick meal plan chart is this sample, shared in our Facebook group by, Michelle D.
Which method do you think will work for you?