Ma! What’s For Dinner?!

Meal Planning Basics photo credit: Dinner Series via photopin cc

Meal Planning Basics
photo credit: Dinner Series via photopin cc

In my never-ending quest to save money at the grocery store, I have read numerous blogs and articles that all suggest meal planning as a way to save on your grocery shopping trips. I’m always a little disappointed when this is the number one tip, because I have been doing this for as long as I have been grocery shopping. So while I continue to look for more tips, I figure a number of people are not meal planning and could use more info on this strategy. While I don’t claim to be an expert, I can share my process.

I try to plan for two weeks at a time, thus only having to do one big grocery shopping trip every two weeks and a small run for milk, produce, and incidentals on the off week. I start by marking off any events, outings, or activities that would affect dinner time. For example, every Wednesday night we have a youth night at our church that includes dinner. So I mark that down as a dinner I don’t need to plan. I’ll mark any other nights I know I don’t have to make dinner such as birthday parties, dinner with family, etc. I also mark things like nights with school or sports activities starting close to dinner time or nights when my husband or I work late since I will want to plan something quick and simple on those nights.

Next, I mark our “standing” dinners. We have pasta and garlic bread one night a week because everyone loves it and it’s cheap. I’ll mix it up with different sauces or types of breads, but basically pasta and bread. We also usually have pizza on Friday nights to kick off the weekend. In the winter, we usually have soup and sandwiches at least once every two weeks and in the summer we usually have hot dogs at least once every two weeks. Again, everyone loves them and they are pretty cheap. So at this point, I usually have at least two or three of the seven nights in a week already planned.

I go through the freezer and cupboards next to take stock of what I already have on hand and jot these things down. I try to keep an up-to-date list going of what is in the freezer to make this step quicker. I’ll mark down the meals I can make with what I have on hand. This usually brings me up to at least five meals for a week, sometimes more if I have stocked up on good sales recently.

Finally, I check out the sale flyer for my grocery store and plan any remaining meals around what is on sale. Sometimes if there are really good sales on something, I might swap out the deal for something I have in the freezer or cupboard and save that meal for another time. I also try to pay attention to meals that are likely to have leftovers and factor a “leftover buffet” night in once in awhile. My kids actually love this because I throw all the leftovers on the counter and take away our usual rules about requiring a fruit or veggie with every meal. They have picked some odd combinations, but they eat it and the fridge gets cleaned out!

*BONUS* – CLICK HERE for the handy sheet I created for meal planning! :) Enjoy!

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  1. […] shopper. It was just something that seemed to come naturally to me. (You can read about my process here.) But I have always been a dinner meal planner. I figured as long as we had breakfast and lunch […]

  2. […] Can’t believe we are already into September!! We’re still having some warm weather here in Michigan, but I’ll be thinking about my favorite fall meals here coming up soon.  I’ll be linking up on I’m an Organizing Junkie if you’re looking for more meal planning ideas! Or check out and follow my Yummy board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my post on meal planning. […]

  3. […] We have been easing into the school year at our house. We had the first full week of school last week, then added in soccer for Roo on Saturday, will be adding in tumble class for Monkey this week, and then next week we’ll add in our Wednesday night youth program at church! Whew. It does make meal planning slightly easier though since we, by default, need to have simple and quick meals. Once The Coach is done with football, we go back to a little “nicer” meals as he will be around more, but for now it is quick and simple!   I’ll be linking up on I’m an Organizing Junkie if you’re looking for more meal planning ideas! Or check out and follow my Yummy board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my post on meal planning. […]

  4. […] Ahhhh, yet another busy week. We are in full swing of soccer, tumble, Wednesday night church group, football, and the various other events and commitments our family has. Add in that we are throwing a birthday party for the boys on Saturday and there is still LOTS to be done for that, and we are in meal survival mode again this week. The up side is that with our church group starting, that is one meal a week I don’t need to plan. And another football coach’s wife and I decided to make life a little easier on ourselves and take turns doing dinner for both families on Thursdays (something simple and easy was the rule!).  I’ll be linking up on I’m an Organizing Junkie if you’re looking for more meal planning ideas! Or check out and follow my Yummy board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my post on meal planning. […]

  5. […] We have one more super busy week, and then we head into a month or so of just the regular routine minus The Coach until football season is over. This week includes the boys’ activities, a night of me working late, Roo’s birthday, and an added night of football since The Coach’s game is on Saturday this week because of scheduling issues. Another week of survival mode with lots of meals out of the freezer and then I’m looking forward to a little more actual cooking as we head into colder weather. Can’t wait to get the crockpot going with yummy soups and casseroles! I’ll be linking up on I’m an Organizing Junkie if you’re looking for more meal planning ideas! Or check out and follow my Yummy board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my post on meal planning. […]

  6. […] So, back to food – we’re finally slowing down a little and have a somewhat normal week. I’ll be linking up on I’m an Organizing Junkie if you’re looking for more meal planning ideas! Or check out and follow my Yummy board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my post on meal planning. […]

  7. […] We had one of what will probably be our last summer-type meals this weekend. Brats, baked beans, and fresh fruit – although our fruit was certainly fall-ish! I had a couple change ups to my meal plan last week – a last minute invite to dinner with friends and a football game dinner at our hometown homecoming game. So I carried over a meal from last week. Relatively slow week, but then I’ll be gone for the weekend scrapbooking with my sister, so The Coach will be on his own! I’ll be linking up on I’m an Organizing Junkie if you’re looking for more meal planning ideas! Or check out and follow my Yummy board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my post on meal planning. […]

  8. […] A weekend away is supposed to leave me calm, relaxed, and ready to tackle the world again. Somehow, the calm has already worn off and I just feel behind and caught in a vicious game of catch-up! Oh well, at least I have a relatively slow week with nothing but our normal activities. And with the cooler weather and some rain arriving, we’ll have plenty of time to snuggle in and find that calm again!  I’ll be linking up on I’m an Organizing Junkie if you’re looking for more meal planning ideas! Or check out and follow my Yummy board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my post on meal planning. […]

  9. […] Well, my scatter-brained state of mind continued through most of the week last week, so my meal plan was not very religiously followed! Between forgetting to take things out of the freezer and making last minute plans, not many of my meals from my plan last week were actually made. So some of them were moved to this week and I’ll be giving it a try again!  I’ll be linking up on I’m an Organizing Junkie if you’re looking for more meal planning ideas! Or check out and follow my Yummy board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my post on meal planning. […]

  10. […] We had one of those weeks last week. It started with The Coach having to pick up and bring home a bunk bed  – in the worst rain storm he had every seen. Then the next night he had to put it together. Followed by some bad days at work. Throw in a case of strep throat (Roo) and two little boys who decided not to go to sleep, stay asleep, or sleep in. Finally, cap it all of with a season ending play off loss for The Coach. I have no other way to say it, other than last week sucked. We did better than I would have thought sticking to our menu plan, but there were a few deviations. Here’s hoping for a better week this week! I’ll be linking up on I’m an Organizing Junkie if you’re looking for more meal planning ideas! Or check out and follow my Yummy board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my post on meal planning. […]

  11. […] We had lots of spontaneous activities last week, so we have a couple carry over meals this week. We decided to take a trip into Chicago for the day and visit Legoland and the Rainforest Cafe. My, oh my, did the boys ever love it! Then we also decided to catch a college football game on Saturday night. Throw in Halloween, and it was quite the exciting week for my little men! This week will be a bit more normal, just our normal activities and adjusting to the time change, which is always a bit of a struggle for my boys. I’ll be linking up on I’m an Organizing Junkie if you’re looking for more meal planning ideas! Or check out and follow my Yummy board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my post on meal planning. […]

  12. […] Thanksgiving week!! Very few meals to plan as we head to see family for the holiday. I have a couple days open because I’m not sure of plans yet and don’t know what the leftover situation will be. I’ll be linking up on I’m an Organizing Junkie if you’re looking for more meal planning ideas! Or check out and follow my Yummy board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my post on meal planning. […]

  13. […] The holiday season has officially started! Over the next month, there is an overabundance of rich foods, holiday events, and Christmas to-do’s, so my meal plans will be super simple. Why throw something else into the chaos, right? Not that exciting, but we go to enough exciting events this time of year that we really don’t even notice the boring meals at home!  I’ll be linking up on I’m an Organizing Junkie if you’re looking for more meal planning ideas! Or check out and follow my Yummy board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my post on meal planning. […]

  14. […] Another busy holiday activity filled week, so another simple meals at home week!  I’ll be linking up on I’m an Organizing Junkie if you’re looking for more meal planning ideas! Or check out and follow my Yummy board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my post on meal planning. […]

  15. […] On to my menu! A few easy comfort foods this week, and a few survival meals this week. The Coach will be out of town for a coaching clinic for a couple days, so I’ll be on my own. Hence the McD’s and pizza nights. I’ll be linking up on I’m an Organizing Junkie if you’re looking for more meal planning ideas! Or check out and follow my Yummy board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my post on meal planning. […]

  16. […] On to my menu! Pretty normal week – not slow but not overly busy, either. This week I’ll be making some favorites (spaghetti sauce & breakfast for dinner), clearing out some BBQ chicken from the freezer, and throwing in some soup and sandwiches since it is cold, cold, cold here! I’ll be linking up on I’m an Organizing Junkie if you’re looking for more meal planning ideas! Or check out and follow my Yummy board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my post on meal planning. […]

  17. […] On to my menu! We’ve been having quite the winter weather here in Michigan, so trying to keep up with the snowfall, snow days, and snowy driving conditions has exhausted me just a bit! So I enlisted the help of the boys to create this week’s meal plan. That will help to explain why there is quite a bit of kid-friendly, guy-favorite food. I’ll be linking up on I’m an Organizing Junkie if you’re looking for more meal planning ideas! Or check out and follow my Yummy board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my post on meal planning. […]

  18. […] On to my menu! This week includes a special Valentine’s dinner! Other than that, pretty standard fare.  I’ll be linking up on I’m an Organizing Junkie if you’re looking for more meal planning ideas! Or check out and follow my Yummy board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my post on meal planning. […]

  19. […] Or check out and follow my Yummy board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my post on meal planning. Here’s what we’re eating this […]

  20. […] Dots. Or check out and follow my Yummy board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my post on meal planning. Here’s what we’re eating this […]

  21. […] Or check out and follow my Yummy board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my post on meal planning. Here’s what we’re eating this […]

  22. […] Or check out and follow my Yummy board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my post on meal planning. Here’s what we’re eating this […]

  23. […] Or check out and follow my Yummy board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my post on meal planning. Here’s what we’re eating this […]

  24. […] check out and follow my Yummy board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my post on meal planning. Here’s what we’re eating this […]

  25. […] been doing it for so long it has just become second nature to me. I wrote a post about my process (you can read it here). Basically, my habit is to think about our activities that week to determine where we need easy or […]

  26. […] and follow my Yummy dinners board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my post on meal planning. Here’s what we’re eating this […]

  27. […] and follow my Yummy dinners board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my post on meal planning. Here’s what we’re eating this […]

  28. […] and follow my Yummy dinners board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my post on meal planning. Here’s what we’re eating this […]

  29. […] and follow my Yummy dinners board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my post on meal planning. Here’s what we’re eating this […]

  30. […] and follow my Yummy dinners board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my first post on meal planning, or my recent Beginner’s Guide to Meal Planning. Here’s what we’re eating this […]

  31. […] and follow my Yummy dinners board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my first post on meal planning, or my recent Beginner’s Guide to Meal Planning. Here’s what we’re eating this […]

  32. […] and follow my Yummy dinners board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my first post on meal planning, or my recent Beginner’s Guide to Meal Planning. Here’s what we’re eating this […]

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