Meal Planning

It used to be that the manfriend and I would meet up at one of our places after work and head to the grocery store and try to decide what to have for dinner. We’d bum around the story hemming and hawing until we made a decision inevitably picking up a bunch of stuff we didn’t really need along the way thereby wasting money. It would be 9 p.m. by the time we finally sat down to eat after shopping and cooking.

When we moved in together and created a combined food budget, we decided to try meal planning and shopping just once a week. That was three and half years ago and we love doing it this way! It makes weeknights go more smoothly and really helps us stay on budget.

Here’s how we do it:

  1. We sit down on a Saturday morning and come up with a list of four to five dinners to make during the week. The goal is to have each prepared meal cover two nights.
  2. Our weeks run from Saturday night through Friday night since I usually shop on Saturdays.
  3. We then take that list of meals and write down all the ingredients we need to pick up at the store.
  4. We also add in other essentials like bread, coffee, eggs, fruit, toilet paper, etc. to round the list out.
  5. Included on the list are other items needed for lunches and snacks, but those are usually less planned out and regimented than dinners. Except for this week (see below).

Here’s a sample of a weeks worth of dinners from this past weekend’s meal planning:

  • Saturday night: BBQ chicken thighs, sweet potato and broccoli for the manfriend. (I went to my folks to watch the Broncos game and had homemade Posole. Yum!)
  • Sunday/Monday nights: Roast chicken with roasted sweet potatoes and salad.
  • Tuesday/Wednesday nights: Chili with cornbread and roasted broccoli (made two batches of chili and froze one batch for later).
  • Thursday/Friday nights: Pesto crusted salmon with salad (already had the pesto from the garden in the freezer).
  • And then I made this recipe for myself for several lunches during the week.

And here’s the shopping list created to make all that happen:

Vitamin Cottage:
  • Bread
  • Soy creamer
  • Kombucha
  • Lemon zinger tea
  • Ground buffalo x2
  • Canned tomatoes x2 (I get the Pomi brand in tetra paks since that’s supposed to be better for you)
  • Peanut butter
  • Apple juice
  • Apples
  • Chocolate
Target:
  • Olive oil
  • Brown sugar
  • Trash can (ours was gnarly and needed to go)
  • Kidney beans x4
  • Jelly
  • Canned tuna
  • BBQ sauce
  • Floss
King Soopers:
  • Onions
  • Herbs for the roast chicken
  • Bananas
  • Sweet potatoes x2
  • Grapefruit x3
  • Lettuce
  • Snap peas
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Goat cheese
  • Feta
  • Frozen shrimp
  • Salmon
  • 1 whole chicken
  • Chicken thighs
  • Fage 0% (big carton)
  • Eggs x2 cartons
  • Frozen spinach x2
  • Pop chips
  • Babybel light minis

Yes, I shop at THREE different stores. Yes, it’s kind of a pain in the ass. But I’ve come to know who’s got the best prices on what and shopping this way really helps us make the most of our food budget. I’ve got all of this down to a science at this point and can get everything done in under two hours. Well, unless I take my sweet time perusing the stores, which doesn’t happen often. I hate grocery shopping and generally want it over as quick as possible. And yes, I do ALL the shopping. The manfriend does most of the cooking, so it’s the least I can do. Plus, we have a better chance of getting everything on the list and staying on budget when I do it. It’s a fact.

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    My mother is an encyclopedia of useless information (sorry, ma, but it's true) - no one can beat her at Trivial Pursuit. As I age, I become more like dear old mom everyday. I routinely tell people about resources, recipes, tips, tricks, or websites I've heard about, tried, live by, etc. until one of my clients urged me to start a blog. So here it is! My perpetual ramblings. I hope you find them useful and amusing. If you don't, you can either keep it to yourself or leave me a well constructed critique.

    I'm a former massage therapist, a freelance journalist, and a web information architect and UX designer. I enjoy yoga, the Bar Method, camping, reading, gardening, and spending time with my friends and loved ones. I live in Colorado.

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