Making Things Easy (and Saving Money) with Some Simple Meal Planning
I’m a big believer in making things easy on yourself. The easier something is to do, the more likely it is that you’ll actually do it. Meal planning is one of those areas where this is especially true.
If you’re like me, just thinking about what to have for dinner can wear you out. There’s the matter of seeing what’s involved with making what you want to make, checking to see whether or not you have all of the ingredients, possibly stopping at the store to get missing items or thawing out meat, etc. All that before you even actually make something. Is it any wonder that so many people eat out?
Eating out too often is a big issue for me — it’s just plain old not healthy for me to be eating out as often as I do, plus my wallet takes a hit. So, I can save money (and feel less worn out) by planning out meals ahead of time.
I had success doing this previously by using a set of little yellow sticky notes. I’d write a meal on each sticky, and then shuffle them around at the beginning of the week until I had them the way I wanted them. That made it easy to take leftovers into account too. But that method fell by the wayside when I switched to a digital planner (Google Calendar) instead of a paper planner.
So, I’ve developed a new method that will also let me easily reorganize meals (while eliminating the problem of not being able to think of what to make for dinner.) I bought some magnets at IKEA, got out a Sharpie and began writing down the things we like to eat on them:
I came up with 24 different meals, along with appropriate sides, and wrote one meal on each magnet. I went ahead and did them in permanent marker, because I didn’t want them being accidentally wiped off. And realistically we tend to eat the same kinds of things anyway, so it’s not as though they’re likely to change. Then I stuck them all on the fridge:
These magnets are nice, because one of the edges sticks up, making them easy to move around. (Because let’s face it, sometimes we don’t feel like eating what we’d planned.) This way it’s still easy to choose something else instead without eating out. It also makes it easy to move things around so that similar ingredients are used up, making it easier to shop. Of course we will still be eating out too, but this will eliminate a lot of the unplanned meals out.