Welcome to Meal Planning With Amanda

Whether you are new to meal planning or already doing it yourself and are just looking to follow me in my quest to save time, save money, and waste less food, welcome to Meal Planning with Amanda!

In this post, you will find a step-by-step guide on how to meal plan with links to my own meal planning resources.

Step 1: Printable Calendars and Shopping Lists
One of the best resources I have found for exactly how to meal plan, complete with down loadable, printables to help you is Organizedhome.com.  Click ***HERE*** to go to Organizedhome.com and get your own meal planning calendars and shopping lists and get introduced to meal planning.  Also, clear off your fridge or a corkboard to post your printables!

Step 2: Master Meal List
To aid in reducing those; "what in the world am I going to cook this week and what should I shop for, exactly?!?" conversations with yourself, I highly suggest sitting down with your spouse and/or family and make a master meal list of everything you like to cook & eat on a regular basis.  Click ***HERE*** for my Master Meal List for ideas and inspiration.  Every week when you are planning what to cook for dinner, refer to your Master Meal List if nothing comes to you right away.  Having a visual listing has really helped us!

Step 3: Take Inventory

To reduce wasting time, money and food, shopping for only what we need to make this week's meals is the #1 tip I have to offer you.  As explained by Organizedhome.com, taking inventory of what you already have in your fridge/freezer and pantry before you plan your meals for the week and do your shopping is crucial.  Make your inventory list of meats, poultry, fish and even vegetables, should they be the star of any of your dishes, and add whatever you purchased once you have done your shopping (I do this after I have gone to Costco) and keep it somewhere visible.  As you use an item off this list, cross it out so you always know exactly what you have left for the month or the quarter without having to dig to the bottom of your freezer.  I keep my inventory at the bottom of each of my weekly, meal planning posts so you can follow along with me.  See Step 4 for the link or select "Meal Planning" from the Categories widget on the left-hand side of my blog.

Step 4: Plan your weekly menu
For what I purchase on a weekly basis (complete with receipts and my tips for the best prices) and to see my weekly menu, click ***HERE*** to see my Meal Planning entries (read from the bottom up).  Every Sunday, I clip coupons from the paper and browse the Safeway grocery ad for what's on sale (mainly produce as I have already stocked my freezer with meats from Costco and am not interested in purchasing additional meats UNLESS they are on a deep discount!).  Based on my inventory list (what meats I have on-hand) and what meals sound good from my Master Meal List, I build the week's Meal Plan around what is on sale.  I know most of my recipes by heart so I can quickly browse my pantry to ensure I have all the ingredients I'll need to cook every meal.  Should you not, pull recipes and do a walk-thru of your kitchen and be sure to add missing ingredients to your shopping list.

Be sure you post your weekly menu to the fridge so that every morning you can view it and decide which meal you want to make that evening and cross it out so you know you've used it.

Should you be working late or have a soccer game or are leaving your husband to fend for himself, you may want to choose that night for "eating out" or "leftovers".  Save that home-made baked ziti for a lazy Saturday afternoon!  Speaking of "eating out" and "leftovers" night, we have it once per week, some times more but that is because I have gotten really good at making only enough food for 2.5 people and rarely have leftovers.  Adjusting all my favorite recipes to feed only us, rather than 4-6 people has also really cut down on our food waste.  Should you like the leftovers to pack in your lunch or to have 1-3 times per week, don't change a thing!

Step 5: SHOP!
Take your lists, ad and coupons and hit the store.  Buy only what is on your list UNLESS things are at a deep discount or are offered in a "Buy 1, Get 1 Free" special, which you will know from the ad.  If you can afford it, I suggest always stock piling when things are on sale.  Some weeks I stock up and spend over $200 and some weeks I spend less than $100; however, for the most part, my grocery bills is $150 per week and that feeds all three of us for breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks and I find that to be outstanding!

It's that simple!

Should you have any questions at all or should you find a link that doesn't work, please leave me a comment or email me at: amandashavers@gmail.com!


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