Step by step guide to help you meal plan
This will help you meal plan which will help with your health and help you stick to your budget
I am a person that loves a plan. So I have always meal planned. I know that for some it is not that easy. It can be overwhelming as to where to start. Don't let yourself get overwhelmed with what to do, how to do it or where to start.
First thing to do is to take inventory of what you actually have. That includes your pantry, fridge and freezer. For most it would help to actually write it all down. Make sure that you include everything, every can, every bottle everything. Then start a grocery list as you are making your inventory of anything that you know that you are out of and will need. For example, my daughter eats a lot of cheese so if while I am doing my inventory I see that we have no cheese I would put that on my list. Only put things on the list that you know 100% that you will need and will eat. If you do grocery shopping once a week then it needs to be something that you will eat within the next week before your next shopping.
Then make a list of recipes that you can make using just the items that you already have. Recipes that you don't need to get anything else in order to make. You can just write it down on paper of all the things you can make. You might have 4 recipes or you might be able to think of 30. It just depends on what you have in your house. Then start to make your actual meal plan. I have a dry eraser board that is on my fridge that I make my weekly meal plan. I got my mine off Amazon, but you can also get some meal plans or dry erase boards from the dollar store for not that much. Just make sure that it is somewhere that everyone can see it so that everyone is on board with the plan. If you are new to meal planning then just do a week at a time. Some people like to do a month or two weeks at a time. But that can be too overwhelming. So just focus on a week at a time. Start your meal plan with the recipes that you can already make with what you have. This principle is called shelf cooking. It is the principle of using what you have first rather than purchasing items every week and using those first. It is something that will make the most impact on your budget. And you won't waste any more food. I think that we waste way too much food just because we forgot that we had it before it expired.
When I make my meal plan I only plan for dinner. That is because it is just me and my daughter who is only 4 and a very picky eater. I also do intermittent fasting so I mainly only eat 2 large meals rather than 3. So for lunch I will just use leftovers in some way. But if you have more people in your house then it might be helpful to plan out lunch and dinner. This may be different if you are going to work or the kids going to school. You need to make a plan that works for you and your life. If you are new to meal planning then start with planning dinner and maybe just make a side list of all the different lunch options that there will be.
Then fill in the rest of your meal plan focusing on using items that you need to use up. Trying to limit the items that you need to purchase to fill in the gap. If your family is struggling with meal planning then make sure you put recipes on the meal plan that you know that they will love to make sure that they are on board with the plan.
Your goal should be to use half of your budget getting items that you actually need. Then the other half of your budget to build up your stock pile. Focusing on items that are on sale. When you do this then you are not buying items for full price when you can save money and get it on sale. If anything is a really good sale then make sure you get two extra to build up your stock pile. If you don't have a large stock pile then by using half your budget for your stockpile you will be able to build it up very quickly.
Also make sure that you build in a left over night and/or take out night. You want to make sure that you are using what you have and you don't want to toss leftovers. If you are making something large then find another way to eat the meal that will make it different. Such as if you make chili then you can make chili fries for example. If you make a whole chicken, find different recipes that you can use the chicken. That way you can use what you have and are not getting bored by eating the exact same thing.
Don't get overwhelmed. If it doesn't work the first time then try it again. Sometimes for some people it can take practice to make it work. Meal planning is a good way to stay healthy and stay on your healthy eating. It is also a lot better on your budget.