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Meal Planning Made Simple
By Monica Resinger, Editor The Homemaker's Journal
Meal planning can be a time-consuming job and often times, this is why we
just give up on it and just go get whatever looks appealing at the store and be
done with it. I know from experience that this leads to wasted money, extra
trips to the store, frustration and cooking boredom.
So what's the solution? The solution I came up with was pre-planned 3-day
menus complete with shopping lists. This way, Iâd only have to do the work
for a given menu, then from there on, that menu would be hassle-free. This
method also allows me to work in new recipes.
Meat is usually the most expensive part of the shopping list, so this is why
it is the biggest factor in my menu planning. On a given week (I like to shop
weekly for the sales to save money), there is usually 1 or 2 different meats*
on sale that Iâll buy for the good prices. This is why I make my menus for 3
days - so I can use the two sale meats* in my menu plan (I pick out 2 menus
that include the 2 meats Iâll be using). This ads up to 6 meals within a week
I don't plan 7 meals because we usually have at least one (usually more) meal
per week with enough leftovers to make up for that 1 missing meal (and of
course, thereâs always those nice days when we get to go out to dinner!).
you or I will have leftovers after each meal and extend our shopping trips and
save us money! *Note: if you happen to be a vegetarian, simply plan your
meals around the produce sales.
Here is the step-by-step instructions for making pre-planned, 3-day menus:
1. Choose the *meat you'd like to include in your meal plan. To help
decide, look at what meats are on sale in your weekly grocery store sales
2. On a sheet of paper (or a page in your word processing program on your
computer), label Meal 1 and leave a few spaces to fill in a main dish,
vegetable, bread, etc. (whatever food groups you like to have included in your
then do the same for Meal 2 and Meal 3.
3. Fill in the names of the recipes you want to include in each meal. For
this part, you can use your tried and true recipes or fill in new ones you've
been wanting to try. If the recipes are from a cookbook, list the name of the
cookbook with the page the recipe is on in parentheses so you can find it
later, or, if you'd like, you can write the recipes on additional sheets of
(or additional pages in your document on the word processing program) to
include with your menu for ease of use later.
4. Make the shopping list. On an additional sheet of paper, include all the
ingredients from each recipe you used in Step 2. If an ingredient is
included in more than one recipe, simply increase the amount on your list.
to categorize these, but not necessary.
I suggest making a basic shopping list for yourself that includes items you
use all the time such as fresh fruits & vegetables, milk, eggs, bread, flour,
sugar, etc. These are the items you always want to have on hand.
You can organize your meal plans in a 3-ring binder and section them off by
meat. Obviously the more 3-day menus you have, the better. Yes, this can be
time consuming to begin with, but it is time well invested because later there
will be hardly any work involved. When it comes time to go shopping all
you'll have to do is look up two appealing 3-day menus that include your sale
meats, write down the items you need from those and your basic shopping list,
You can save yourself more time by using my pre-planned menus available here:
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