10 Tips To Help You Meal Plan Like a Boss - Buttered Side Up

10 Tips To Help You Meal Plan Like a Boss

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How to Meal Plan Like a Boss
It took me several years into married life to start meal planning. My mom never planned out her meals, so I just wasn't into it. I had a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of shopping/cooking plan. That can work great for some people, but I found that I was wasting food and I'd often be at a loss as to what to make for supper.

Then I decided it was time to change. I've been meal planning regularly for over a year now, and I LOVE it.

Yes, it takes time to plan out your meals each week. But when you have a plan, you won't be staring at your kitchen at 4:00, wondering what to have and hoping supper will magically make itself.

Here are my 10 tips to help you meal plan like a boss to save money and reduce waste:

How to Meal Plan Like a Boss
1) SHOP YOUR PANTRY AND FRIDGE

Before you write out your meal plan for the week, take a look into your pantry, fridge, and freezer. Choose 2-3 things to build some meals off of. For example: Do you have salmon in your freezer? Plan to make Salmon en Papillote for one of your suppers. Got spaghetti and pasta sauce in your pantry? Plan to make Hearty Pasta Sauce for a supper.

Not only will this reduce this week's grocery bill, it will keep you from wasting food when you have to throw it out when it goes bad.

2) PLAN ONLY THE NUMBER OF MEALS YOU WILL EAT

I actually only plan for 4 meals each week (plus the leftover meal). We always eat with family on Sundays, and there's usually one more day a week where we eat at someone else's house or go out to eat. If you plan too many meals, food will go to waste (especially delicate produce!).

How to Meal Plan Like a Boss
3) PLAN YOUR MEALS TO USE UP INGREDIENTS

There are some things that our little family can't eat up in one meal: we just can't use an entire head of lettuce. So I plan to use it for at least two meals in a week.

For example, I plan to make chicken salad for one meal, and taco salad for another.

4) PLAN FOR A LEFTOVER/CLEAN OUT THE FRIDGE MEAL

We usually have enough leftovers every week to make a meal out of it. I like to plan one of my meals as a leftover meal so this food doesn't go to waste. You can also plan a "clean out the fridge" meal where you have to eat up whatever is left from the week's grocery haul. It's a great challenge!

Alternatively, you can plan to eat any leftovers for lunches.


How to Meal Plan Like a Boss
5) HAVE A LIST OF FAVORITE MEALS

Sometimes (most of the time, if I'm honest), I draw a complete blank when I sit down to map out my meals for the week. Having a list of your favorite meals really simplifies the process. All I have to do is glance over my list and select which meals sound good to me that week.

6) START A PINTEREST BOARD WITH MEALS TO TRY

It's great to have your list of favorite meals, but they can get boring if you never try something new. I like to have a secret Pinterest board with recipes I think we'd enjoy (for inspiration, check out my "What's For Supper" board). Each week I try to choose one new recipe. Then, if it's a huge success, I can add it to my favorite meals list.


How to Meal Plan Like a Boss
7) INVEST IN FUN/PRETTY MEAL PLANNING SUPPLIES

I don't know about you, but having fun/pretty supplies motivates me to actually do my meal planning. Buying my meal planning pad (with the rip-off list) is what really pushed me to meal plan regularly.

Good pens are a MUST for me. But I'm always losing them! I picked up some new ones at Walmart the other day. I'm enjoying these Pilot G2 pens (I've been a sucker for gel pens since I was a kid). I like the pretty designs on their fashion collection pens, but you can choose from different collections (premium or metallics, for example), 4 point sizes and 15 colors.


How to Meal Plan Like a Boss
8) WRITE A ROUGH DRAFT OF YOUR MEAL LIST FIRST

I like to scribble down my meal list in my notebook before writing out the final plan. This way I can make adjustments and my final draft won't be all messy. I also write out my grocery list as I think of ingredients I need.


How to Meal Plan Like a Boss
9) COLOR CODE YOUR GROCERY LIST BY FOOD TYPE

Once I have my meal plan finalized and my list of groceries written out, I like to go back and make a more organized grocery list. It's a great idea to color coordinate your list by types of food. For example, green for produce, blue for pantry items, pink for dairy products, orange for meat, etc. You can do whatever colors make sense to you.

Color coordinating your list makes it easy to see if you have everything in a category so you can move on to the next section of the store.

Which brings me to tip #10:

10) ARRANGE YOUR LIST BY WHERE FOOD IS LOCATED IN THE STORE

Instead of having a random list of products to buy, it's MUCH more convenient to have your list arranged by where things are located in your store. That way you are less likely to forget something on your list.

For example, most stores have the produce section first. Put all of the fresh fruits and veggies at the top of your list.



So those are my top 10 tips for meal planning. If you have any more tips, make sure to share in the comments.

Happy meal planning!

By the way, if you're interested in the pens I used in this post, you can save $0.75 on any ONE 4-pack (or larger) of G2 Gel Ink pens with this coupon.

12 comments

  1. These are great tips! I love those pens, too :)

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  2. Do you go grocery shopping one day a week?

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    1. Yes, I go shopping once a week. Sometimes I'll have to make another stop if something comes up (for example if I have to make something for a gathering or for camping), but it's usually only one day a week.

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  3. I think this post re-energized me to try meal planning for the fiftieth time! Thanks for the great tips....I hope to try at least one more time :)

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    1. Yay! I'm glad that I inspired you. You've got this! :)

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  4. Where did you get that Grocery Meal plan pad? So wonderful!

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    1. I got mine from Anthropologie, but you can also get it directly from the company (9th Letter Press).

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  5. I'd love it if I could plan like this. I always say I should but I never seem to have the time to do it! When do you find the time to sit down to draft, and to write it up neatly too?

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    1. I usually do it either while the kids are playing nicely, during naptime, or when Reuben is home. I don't always have the time to do it all at once. Sometimes I'll have to make the rough draft, then write up the grocery list/final plan at another time. :)

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  7. Sorry to come to the game late! Meal planning is a nightmare for us- my husband is a ridiculously picky eater and we have a toddler who some nights can polish off half a sirloin steak and other nights only wants toast and a few nibblets of corn. Ugh. I revisited this post as I'm now dedicated to meal planning as my life has become a headache around dinnertime! I notice we also throw out so much food. The other night I made chicken, and my husband told me the chicken just tasted fatty and low-quality (not my fault but he's very sensitive to textures). I ended up throwing out a whole package of chicken because after he's talked it down I just didn't have an appetite for it. I enjoy shopping at Whole Foods because you can actually return items if you didn't like them or found them to be of low quality. Unfortunately this chicken was from our regional chain grocer and I've had issues in the past with returning food (they will only take back items that are expired or have had safety comprised- like an accidental open package). Anyways, thank you for the tips! Your kitchen is so cute too!!!

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