Trying to start meal planning and I would love as much input as you are willing to share!

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  • #80718 Reply

      My current situation is that I have a Calendar with the meals I want to make written down. I just started it this month and and it seems that several of the meals tend to change last minute, based on things that come up.

      I do buy my meats at Sam’s, and I shop several other stores for the best deals on regular, every day items based on the sales, coupons, etc. available. I am not above store, brand items, so I do buy those often as well.

      Below are a few things I’d REALLY love input on…

      1- is it worth it to shop multiple stores when grocery shopping? I usually try to plan my shopping when I can go to multiple store and I don’t really go out of the way when I do this because the stores I shop at are all generally close to each other.

      2- What are some things to avoid when meal planning?

      3- What are some of your favorite go-to recipes?

      Thank you in advance!!!

      #80719 Reply

        I monthly meal plan and try to make sure I have built-in leftover nights. I just use a cheap monthly planner from Dollar Tree or even notebook paper if I don’t want to buy a calendar. I ask for input from my husband and son (my daughter has since moved out but would try anything I made) as they are both a little on the picky side.

        I try to do a balance of slow cooker, oven, stove top and air fryer (once in a while the Instant Pot!). I shop to replenish what I am using from my pantry, so even if my meals need to change because of activities, energy, time constraints, etc.,

        I usually have the ingredients which is helpful. I vary the meals so they’re not too similar unless I have to use up something quickly. I shop once a week but go to three stores (Meijer, Wal-Mart and a locally owned store) because I like certain things at each store. Two are across the street from each other and the other one is not too far away from them. I shop early in the morning when it’s not busy (like 7 am on a Saturday morning) and shelves are stocked.

        I also prep most of my fruits and veggies for the week on Sunday afternoons or early Monday morning before work. When I buy meat, I cut it up for how I plan on using it (if I’m having beef stew, I cube up clearance roast, or buy a whole pork loin and cut it up different ways and throw it in the freezer, big bags of chicken get chopped, butterflied, etc.) and always have it ready to use.

        #80720 Reply

          I don’t shop more than 2 stores in a week. Time is money also. I have a main store Meijer and the every other week I go to Costco or Kroger for certain items. If you are just starting to meal plan try one or two weeks at a time at first. Look at your schedule and see which days and nights are the most hectic.

          On those crazy nights it’s something super simple like eggs and toast or frozen pizza. Double up on recipes and freeze one meal for later.

          Utilize store rewards programs and grocery store pick up keeps from impulse buying. Kids and spouses can wreck a budget so leave them home.

          #80721 Reply

            When I lived where I had 4 grocery stores within a one mile radius I would shop each stores loss leaders and typically have enough food that way to feed us healthy meals for cheap. Anything not on sale I would get at my Kroger store because it was the cheapest option.

            As for choosing a menu, I would look at what days are my busy days, and I would choose either simple meals like hotdogs/hamburgers/toasted sandwiches/grilled cheese, something easy or something in the crockpot in the morning. Another thing I would do is pick something that can be made two ways. Roast in the crockpot on Sunday and Tuesday it is bbq beef/pork sandwiches or maybe shredded tacos. Most meals I choose can be made in 30 minutes or less or they cook in the crockpot or instant pot. I choose long meals on the days I don’t work and am not busy. A roasted chicken with potatoes made on a day I’m not busy and then I use the left over chicken for chicken and dumplings in the crockpot and the bones go in the instant pot to make a bone broth.

            #80722 Reply

              I plan a week at a time. Looking at sports/activities and hubby’s travel schedule then plan accordingly, including if we’ll eat out. I like sheet pan dinners and use the crock pot on busier nights. I have a “fix it and forget it” cookbook and also use Pinterest for meal ideas. I also will add leftovers into my plan if able. I only go to one grocery store (weekly) and Costco (1-2x month) but that’s easiest for my schedule.

              #80723 Reply

                In terms of stores I live in a bigger city and some parts of town have a few of the common stores within a couple of blocks, that’s worth cherry picking.

                If the stores are miles apart you’ll spend your grocery savings in gas. That’s what I’d be most concerned about.

                My main philosophy is if you’re only saving a couple cents or a tiny amount it’d not worth stressing over. Some may have different views on that but that’s just me. I need the saved time for side hustles.

                Best of luck to you!

                #80724 Reply
                Lee Ann

                  I plan a week at a time and try to plan meals according to how long they have to cook. For instance, if we have evening activities I choose something that doesn’t cook long and/or something easy to prepare. I keep a binder with a list of meals my family likes and recipes for them. I plan my meals and then go right to my Kroger app and order my groceries. It saves me so much money than when I have to I to the store.

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