Hi there! I’m Stephanie from Crayon Marks and Tiger Stripes. I am so excited to be here on Mom Favorites today! I’m a registered nurse turned stay at home mom, at least while my children are little. My amazing husband, whom I like to call Dr. Smartypants, and I have a red headed little boy and a sweet little girl on the way. I absolutely love being a mom! Parenting is a tough job, but it is also the most fulfilling and rewarding experience of my life.
Along this parenting journey, I have discovered little things I can do to help me maintain my sanity, or what’s left of it anyway. One of those things is meal planning. Today, I want to share with you how to meal plan in 5 easy steps in hopes that I can make your life just a little bit easier too!
Image courtesy of NatalieMaynor via Flickr
Step 1- Make time for your meal plan.
Set aside a specific time to work on your meal plan. It usually takes me about 30 minutes to prepare 2 weeks at a time. Sit down at a time where you can be uninterrupted. Good luck with that Mom! I usually do my planning during nap time because that’s my best chance at getting anything done without interruptions.
Step 2- Collect Recipes.
I love flipping through recipe books. I have some awesome family recipe books and love cooking from them. Don’t want to spend money on recipe books? Take a look at your family and friends recipe books and take a picture of the recipe with your phone. I have a folder on my computer specifically for those pictures.
With the internet and its vast awesomeness, you have thousands of recipes at your fingertips for free. If you aren’t on pinterest, you need to be! It’s a great tool to organize your recipes. Blogs are a great resource for finding recipes as well. When I am searching for a recipe, I always go to a foodie blog first. They almost always have step by step instructions with tons of pictures. This girl is a visual learner so I absolutely love it.
Here’s a few of my favorite recipe sites. I love them because they take your everyday comfort foods and find ways to make a healthier version of it by using various substitutions (did you know you can use applesauce instead of oil for baked goods?)
I love these sites because they use ziplist. Ziplist is an application on many foodie websites that allow you to save your recipes to your own recipe box. And what’s amazing about that? If you have a smartphone, you can download the free app and make grocery lists right on your phone from the recipes that you save!
Step 3- Use a meal plan printable.
When I sit down to plan, I always have a Meal Plan Printable at my side. You can go digital and use your phone or your online calendar, but I’m a paper and pen kind of gal. There are tons of foodie bloggers out there that offer free meal plan printables. Here are a few of my favorites:
After I make my menu plan, I hang it up on the fridge. I put it in a place that I will see it when I am cooking dinner so that I know what I need to get out to thaw for tomorrow’s meal. My kitchen has been a microwave-free zone for over a year and half (and I don’t miss it!) so I have to prepare ahead for the next day’s meals.
I also only cook breakfast and lunch 2-3 times a week. I usually make muffins or breakfast breads to eat off for a couple days. We tend to eat alot of healthy muffins, yogurt and smoothies for breakfast. For lunches, I prepare a large batch of something (like Skinny Mac Alfredo) that we can eat off for a few days and that I can send to work with the hubby. I’m a busy mom so I don’t mind eating the same thing for a couple days in a row for lunch. As long as my kiddo is fed, he’s happy. And if he’s happy, I’m happy.
Step 4- Make your grocery list as you meal plan.
I make my grocery list as I am meal planning. As I am writing down my recipes on my meal plan printable, I will write down what groceries I need for the week or plug them into my phone. This saves so much money because I am only buying what I need. I also utilize a co-op called Bountiful Baskets. I get a ton of fresh fruits and vegetables for a low price from this co-op, and I often plan my meals around what I have on hand from that basket. You really must look for a co-op or farmers market in your area. It will save you tons of money on fresh produce.
Here are a few awesome grocery lists that I love:
Step 5- Be consistent about your meal plans!
I have to admit I’ve fallen off the wagon a few times in the past and those are the times we starve. Okay, not really. We just end up ordering out. I’ve been trying to avoid that problem by making freezer meals ahead of time for those days that cooking seems impossible, which was pretty much the first 15 weeks of this pregnancy!
I promise you will save yourself a ton of money, time and sanity if you plan ahead!
Do you meal plan? Have any awesome meal planning tips you’d like to share with the world? Share in the comments!
Stephanie is wife to Dr. Smartypants and mom to a little red headed boy and a baby girl on the way! She’s a Christ follower, a do it yourselfer , a list lover and coffeeaholic. She lives by the slogan: I am mommy! Hear me roar! She writes to encourage women in their journeys as mothers and wives. She is also thrilled to be a contributing author in The Mother of All Meltdowns. When she’s not tending to her little ginger’s every need, you can find her at Crayon Marks and Tiger Stripes where she blogs about healthy living, maintaining a positive body image, faith, and the ups and downs of motherhood. You can also find her on twitter, facebook, google + and pinterest.