I am thrilled to welcome Lacy Boggs from Laughing Lemon Pie to Bump Life today. Lacy teaches her readers to live like a foodie, even with a family, a budget, and a busy life. You know from my recent post, I love systems. But I’ll be the first to admit, I have not mastered the system of meal planning. Lacy’s brand new Meal Planning eBook has me well on my way to becoming a meal planner! Her book is stocked full of really easy to follow tips and the whole book progresses from super easy ways to meal plan, to more advanced ideas when you’re ready. My favorite part is her suggestions on nightly “themes,” that resonates with my system nature and I am sure will become a much used method in our house. AND Lacy is generously giving away a copy of her Meal Planning eBook at the end of the post.
Guest Post By Lacy Boggs
Whenever I talk to people who aren’t used to meal planning, they seem daunted by the very idea, but what if I told you that spending an hour a week or less planning out your meals and shopping for the ingredients could save you hours of time and hundreds of dollars a year?
Quick Start Guide to Basic Meal Planning
Let’s start with what you’ll need to create a basic meal plan for the week.
What you’ll need:
- Your family’s calendar (wherever you store important dates and information)
- Recipes or meal ideas (or the great, wide interwebs)
- Somewhere to write out a grocery list and somewhere to write your meal plan
Start in your kitchen.
Take a look around your kitchen before you sit down to make your meal plan and make a note of what you already have in your fridge, freezer and pantry. Make a note of these things (mentally or on paper) so that you can plan your meals around what needs to be used up. While you’re at it, toss anything that is no longer edible, and freeze anything you’re not going to use up right away.
More than 40 percent of food in the U.S. is wasted—that’s an appalling number when you consider that there are people in this country going hungry, but it’s appalling for our own home economies as well. This one step alone can help save you money and help your family throw away less food.
I have a “clean-out-the-fridge” day, usually the day before I go grocery shopping. Check out this post on 12 ways to use up veggie scraps for more ideas.
Write down family events on your meal plan.
This will help ensure that you can actually follow your meal plan. My meal planner worksheet (that comes as a free bonus with my meal planning ebook) has a field for each day where you can make notes about what’s going on. Be sure to note days when you, your spouse, or your kids will be home late or when someone has somewhere to go after work or school. This way, you’ll be able to see at a glance which nights need easy meals and which nights have a little more time for cooking.
Pick out 5 dinners you’d like to cook.
Yes, only five—not seven. Especially if you’re just starting out with meal planning, it’s important to give yourself this kind of wiggle room. This is even more important if you’re used to eating out once a week or more. We want you to actually cook what you plan, not have the ingredients end up in the trash can, so start small. You can always work up to cooking a full seven days! And if you know ahead of time that you’ll be eating out or eating leftovers, mark that on your plan, too.
Think back to what you have on hand, and try to pick recipes that will use up some or all of those ingredients. Check out the proteins and veggies in your grocery store sales flyers for more ideas on where to start with recipes.
If you’ll be cooking from a recipe, be sure to write down where the recipe is from—write down the cookbook name and page number, or the website where you found it.
Assign each meal to a day of the week.
Be sure to keep in mind what else you have going on when you choose what to cook on what day—crock pot recipes, leftovers and quick cook (or no-cook) meals can be great options for busy days. You don’t have to stick to the assigned days 100 percent, but it’s a good idea to have a starting place.
Write down all the ingredients you need for each recipe.
Add whatever other incidentals you might need, like breakfast cereal, lunchmeat, bread, milk, fruit, etc.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, but it’s a great place to start. In my new ebook, I go into a lot more detail on subjects including:
- Advice on how to make meal planning fit your life
- A revolutionary approach (if I do say so myself) to picking recipes
- The best ways to organize your recipes, both digitally and on paper
- Step-by-step instructions for meal planning on a budget
- Tips on how to use coupons (without going to extremes)
- How to plan other meals beyond dinner
- Tips for using your meal plan to stick to a diet or a budget
- AND MORE!
You can enter to win a FREE copy of “Meal Planning on a Budget” by commenting your favorite meal planning tip or liking us on facebook. One lucky winner will be chosen next Monday, March 4th. Good Luck
Lacy is a mom and an award-winning food writer living life like a foodie in beautiful Colorado and writing about it all at LaughingLemonPie.com.