Thursday, June 7, 2012

How meal planning has helped me

In the long scheme of things, I have only been doing this meal planning thing for a little while. It has always been my heart to provide delicious food for my family, and in the 8 years that we have been married I have tried different things off and on. But, nothing really worked so well that it stuck. Finally, though, I have found what works for me. I don't know exactly how long I have been planning my meals in this way, but it has really blessed me, my kitchen, and my family. I did several posts a while back on why it is important to provide meals for your family in your home, what does NOT work for me in meal planning, the actual meal plan that I use, and what cookbooks I use. If you are interested in finding a way to plan out a menu and shopping list that works for you that is easy to follow, check out those posts to see if my plan would work for you as well.

This is what is on my mind this morning, so I thought I would share some of the ways that planning my meals and shopping list in this way have helped me.
* I have a very limited grocery budget. I have about $125 to spend on groceries for the 5 of us for a 15 day menu. It's tight, but since I am planning out all of our meals for those 15 days, and I know which of the two stores that I shop (Aldi and Kroger) sell what I need the cheapest, I can get what we need within that limit. We don't buy organic, because that would just take up too much of my chunk of money, but I feel that providing nourishing homemade meals and avoiding processed junk and fast food (when we can) makes up for it.
* The overall thought process in my home around meal time has changed from "Where are we going for dinner?" to "What are we having for dinner?" Also, that questions is easily and quickly answered by a glance at the menu hanging on the refrigerator. I read somewhere recently (can't at all remember where) that when you are consistently feeding your family home cooked meals, you are creating for your children and your family a sort of "home base". There is no uncertainty about dinner time.
* My children love helping me in the kitchen, Hudson especially. For Christmas he got his very own spatula. He was 3 at the time, and has loved using it to help me cook whenever he can. By helping me cook and, occasionally, bake, they are learning very valuable life skills. I am also learning and growing in patience :)
* My kitchen has become the place to be. I have Christian music playing in there from morning till night, and at any point throughout the day at least one person is in there. I take pleasure in preparing meals, and there is no 4:00 panic as I try to find something to make. It's all there ready for me.

If you have a desire to have more meals at home, or have been considering finding a system that works for you of consistently and efficiently planning regular menus, I would be happy to help. You could check out the links above, or contact me. My email address is listed at the top on the right under my picture.

Have a great Thursday, and happy cooking! This evening for us, it's chicken and broccoli casserole. Yummy!


Crystal @ Serving Joyfully said...

I, too, love meal planning and feel it is very beneficial :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Our grocery budget is very similar to yours.

Crystal @ Serving Joyfully said...

Also, I recently wrote a post about the strategies that I use in meal planning, here:

Ashley said...

Awesome! I started getting more organized with my meal planning and shopping recently, it makes such a huge difference!
Be blessed,

SharonMarie @ Kitchen Grapevine said...

Meal planning for me has been a life saver. I'm not freaking out anymore about what's for dinner and its saves us so much time and money.I encourage you to keep up the good work. Its worth it.…lan-your-meals/ is a post with the method that works for me.

Ashley Pichea said...

When I actually meal plan {and implement my plan} it does help to save a lot of money - I just don't do it like I should!

Megan Elzey said...

Thank you all for the encouragement :)
SharonMarie, I tried to find your post and couldn't. I was wanting to look at what works for you. Maybe could you send me an email with the link? Thanks :)
Crystal, those are some good strategies. It really is worth it to find something that works with you and your family. You save so much time and money (not to mention sanity!).

Gen said...

I started meal planning when I was a working mother and wife and felt frustrated coming home after work and wondering what to have for dinner. Now I have been meal planning for over 30 years and continue to find it time saving and cost effective. Loved your post and am now following your blog!

m said...

I don't do meal planning, just not my thing. Which is odd because I love to be organized. I love to be in my kitchen and plan in the morning what we're going to have that night. I am going to be making master lists of all the ingredients I always buy when shopping and leaving spaces to fill in qtys. As well as blanks for the additional items we need occasionally! Stoppin by via Thankful Thursday!

Megan Elzey said...

Gen, it truly is efficient and cost effective! Thank you for following :)

m, it seems like that is a system that works out well for you! I'm glad that you have something that helps you stay organized while still fitting in with your own personality and preferences.

Kathleen said...

Great wisdom here! I am trying to cut back from cooking for 6 to cooking for 4 and now cooking for 2-3. That has been a challenge and meal planning sure helps out. Have a great day!

Anonymous said...

Great post! I really enjoy seeing how other people do things like me ideas!

Erica {let why lead} said...

Wow, you really sound on top of it! I usually plan meals for each week, but my problem is that I have to FEEL like eating what I make, so I usually shift the meals around during the week depending on what I feel like. But it usually isn't too hard, as long as I have all the groceries I need.

I like the idea of giving my kids a kitchen utensil for a birthday or Christmas!

Btw, I found you through the Better Mom linkup. It's nice to "meet" you! Great blog!

Megan Elzey said...

Erica, you're right. As long as you have meals planned out and have shopped for them, it's easy to move things around. I do that sometimes as well. And I totally get wanting to make what you feel like eating. Usually I plan out meals that I know we all enjoy eating, so usually I'm in the mood for eating it ;) When I don't, though, is when I usually move things around. Thanks for stopping by! I'm off to check our your blog, too!