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Meal Planning Made Simple

Updated on February 14, 2009

Meal Planning Made Simple

The last month I have pre-planned my meals and implemented a grocery list. My first concern wasn’t necessarily saving money, but it was the concern as to where my food came from and what I was putting in my body.

I again pulled out the recipe books from my collection and I went online to search for ideas. It wasn’t that hard. In most cases the online sites even provide you with a printable grocery list. In my family day planner I write in the meal we are having, keeping in mind our schedules for that day. I also add the ingredients to the running post it note grocery list I have on that week’s calendar. This way, I can grab the list and head to the store. I plan week by week because that’s easier for me to fit into my schedule and that’s about the time my fresh fruits and veggies run out. I try my best to stick to the 100 kms rule but the next best I was willing to go was within the Maritime provinces. This morning I purchased peaches from Nova Scotia at a cost of $8 a bag (yikes!) but when I looked at the prices of the bags of potato chips and snack goodies it was just as expensive and definitely not as good for you.

It is tempting to purchase boxed and frozen items at the store. Reading the labels usually discourages me from purchasing an item. One fibre granola bar touted at my weight loss group was absolutely divine! We loved it and bought box after box of it. But the first ingredient? Sugar. In fact, fibre was the fifth ingredient after preservatives. I stopped buying those sugary fruit roll up snacks and replaced them with popcorn and cut up fruit veggies. I bake cakes from scratch rather than eat the cardboard type frozen ones. Sandwich meats are high in sodium and preservatives. The snack lunch packs aimed at the kids? Preservative filled and tasteless. I usually buy a family pack of chicken or a roast and cook it on the weekends. I then portion it and toss it in the freezer for a later date. What a difference when you have precooked meats on hand when you make a meal!

If you take just 30 minutes a week to plan your meals you would be surprised at the speed of organization you can accomplish even after a full day of work. Slow cookers are incredible kitchen appliances. Energy efficient and you come home to an inviting scent of supper being cooked. Some people prepare, cook and freeze meals for the month. I am not that organized :) Yet.

Now I am not saying that we are 100% perfect. My youngest still prefers hot dogs and French fries as staples as most 12 year olds would. We’ve compromised - I will buy him turkey hot dogs if I can make home fries in the oven (not in the deep fryer). My salad dressing now consists of vinegar and a little olive oil rather than from a shelved bottle with preservatives and sugar. I plan on making my own ice cream as soon as I can pick up the electric ice cream maker I scored off Freecycle.

Here are some tips:
~ Start small.
~ Try it for a week and write the meals on your day planner or calendar. This eliminates the question of “What‘s for supper?” My kids can see it on the calendar and the question is no longer asked a million times.
~ Make your grocery list. I tend to go to the same stores so I am familiar with what they have available and the prices.
Compromise where you can in the beginning. Frozen veggies are just as good as fresh. Canned should be the last choice because of sodium or sugar content - still a good choice - but make sure they are packed in water not syrup.
~ Try and stay on the outer edges of the grocery store and avoid the inside aisles. If an item can stay on the shelf for months, or years at a time, what does it do once it’s absorbed by your body?
~ Include take out nights. Because some nights you just don’t want to cook :)


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    • DarleneMarie profile image

      DarleneMarie 8 years ago from USA

      Super tips for saving money on groceries Kaylee.

    • Patricia Costanzo profile image

      Patricia Costanzo 8 years ago from Behind the Redwood Curtain

      My sister always made a list of dinners for the week too. I guess I'm just not a ducks in a row kinda girl.

    • Bob Ewing profile image

      Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

      Planning makes good sense and can save time and money