Monthly Meal Planning and FREE Printable
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #AHugeSale #CollectiveBias I do shop at these stores and use this method for meal planning and saving money #TomThumb
Knowing how to cook meals for your family is a wonderful skill, however, in order to do so you must be prepared. There’s nothing worse that being in the middle of making a recipe for dinner, way too far in to turn back, only to realize your out of… cheese, butter, eggs, milk, fill in the blank with other necessary ingredient! Believe me, I’ve been there WAY too many times! That’s when it’s good to know your neighbors and have children you can sent to knock on their doors.
The best way to avoid these moments is to plan ahead. For me, that means a monthly meal plan and shopping trip. It helps me be prepared when my schedule gets crazy and I can coordinate dinners with other activities we have going on.
I’ve mentioned this before and some have commented about monthly planning being a little overwhelming, so today I’m sharing my how-to for monthly meal planning AND a free printable. However, if a month at a time is too much or you don’t have room to store that much food, start with a week or two, the same principles apply.
Recipe for Monthly Menu Planning:
1. Take Inventory Start by making a detailed list of ALL the things you have in the pantry, refrigerator and freezer. This helps avoid overbuying and saves money. You can download the FREE Printable below to help you get started.
2. Keep a Running List Somewhere in your kitchen (I keep mine on the side of the refrigerator) keep a list of things you need on your next grocery store visit.
As you’re using things in the kitchen and see you’re running low, write it down right away. I find this extremely helpful with my family. Everyone knows that if they simple say to me, “Mom, we’re out of ____” I may or may not remember it. So, when they say this, my response is always, “Put it on the list.” My husband and children have started to anticipate my response so now they just tell me, “I put ________ on the list.”
3. Write Down All the Meals that Can Be Made From the Inventory List At this point, I take my inventory list (and sometimes my recipe book) and see what meals I already have all or most of the ingredients for.
I also make sure I cross off the food from my inventory list so I don’t accidentally plan to use the same ingredient twice. If a meal is lacking anything, write it on your shopping list right away.
4. Using a Calendar with the Family’s Monthly Schedule, Fill in Meals From Your List Fill in everything you know your family has going on. (I have a planner that I love that has a place for my menu each day and perforated shopping lists in the back)
If you see you’ll be out running a lot of errands on a particular day, plan a crock pot meal or something easy. Maybe a family member will be away for dinner one evening, plan a meal that everyone else likes but they won’t mind missing or don’t like.
5. Using the Sale Papers, Plan the Rest of the Monthly Meals Fill in the rest of the month with meals your family loves including sale items and write down the needed ingredients on your shopping list. Also, very important…..PLAN A LEFT OVER NIGHT AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK!
Looking through the sale papers in my favorite part! Seriously, I love it! (I know, I’m such a food nerd) Our papers come on Wednesday and I’m always excited to search for the best deals. Yes, I get out the marker and circle all the great stuff I want to buy….and usually my son adds a few circles of his own.
I primarily shop at two stores, Tom Thumb and Albertson’s and this week I’m even more excited about the papers because I know Albertson’s and Tom Thumb (as well as other Banner stores like Safeway, Randalls and Star Market) are celebrating their 76th Anniversary! They’re having a HUGE Anniversary Sale starting today (7/29) and going through August 11.
When I find a great sale like this I stock up on all the things I know we will use and take the opportunity to buy a few “extra” things we love but only get when they are on sale. This week a few of my purchases will be Doritos, Lays Kettle Cooked Chips and Gatorade…and plenty of other stuff, too.
I love that the sale items are ALWAYS marked on the shelf. They even let you know if there’s a coupon you can download. Tom Thumb always has plenty of what’s on sale and it’s easy to find! Scavenger hunts are fun and all but I just don’t have time for that at the grocery store.
6. Add Anything from the “Kitchen List” and Double Check Staples Always double-check, getting to the grocery store and wondering if you need sugar, salt or other everyday items can be very frustrating. Thankfully, I have children old enough to stay home while I shop and I usually end up calling at least once from the store, because I’m not sure about something.
This one I add for me because, well….it happens.
7. When heading to the store……DON’T FORGET THE LIST!!!!!