A few years ago we found ourselves in an unhealthy, expensive food pattern. Most days I forgot to even think about dinner. Home with 3 small children for me meant taking one moment at a time and not looking too far ahead. That would leave my husband calling on his way home from work asking if I had taken anything out for dinner and me falling silent! 🙁 This was followed by either a last minute trip to the grocery store where you buy more than you need and don’t catch good sales, or some version of take out/ eating out. These habits are not very healthy and are very costly.
As a solution we decided to try planning our meals out ahead of time (our dinners), and shopping accordingly. We started with a master list of meals that we like, with some being quick and easy, some requiring more cook time, etc. We have added things to our list as we find more things we like and that suit our busy time schedule. It is not high tech, it is literally a shopping list piece of paper on the side of our refrigerator.
Having that list and our calendar on hand, we sit down in the kitchen to make our shopping list. I do all of the writing and my husband does the inventory checks. It takes us about an hour to make the two week meal plan and shopping list. We make our meals based on our schedule for each night, what we have on hand, and what sales are going on. On nights when my husband is home and has time we schedule more elaborate meals as he likes to cook. On days when I am gone all day we schedule things like crock-pot meals, leftover nights, or taking out a frozen soup to thaw and serve. When we have a particularly short amount of time to eat we try to pick things that the kids really like so getting them to eat will be easier.
After our dinner list is made we go through each meal and add to our shopping list what we don’t already have on hand. Then we go through breakfast options, and lunch options adding where we are short. For instance our children eat oatmeal, waffles, bagels, certain cereals, etc. so we check the cupboards for our supplies of each and add to the list what is lacking.
This type of planning has saved so much stress, money, and pounds gained. We are able to eat healthier and for less money. The kids enjoy knowing what is on the schedule for dinner, even if they don’t like the meal that is coming! It has helped to give some stability and order to the food/nutrition part of our lives and budget.