-Written by Steph
One way to save a lot of money and time on food is to make up a meal plan once a week and stick to it. This also helps eliminate dependency on restaurants and prepared foods, and makes sure you always have the ingredients you need on hand. All around great situation to be in!
This is what one of our weekly plans looks like. Here’s how we make it:
1. Go grocery shopping. Buy stuff that’s a good price, a variety of produce, protein, grains, and dairy (or non-dairy dairy, since we’re vegans), in about the volume that looks right for a week. It doesn’t matter much what you get, just that it’s a good price and not really strange stuff that you have no idea what to do with. Of course, make sure you always have basic stocks of staples at home like spices, rice, pasta, soy sauce, lentils, and baking supplies, and keep your fridge clean so you always know exactly what you have in it.
2. Start by figuring out what you’re doing in the evenings. We don’t usually have weeknight plans, so this is easy, but sometimes one of us has a meeting or concert or plans with friends. This is very important – you don’t want to be scheduled to bake bread and make some complicated dish if you only have an hour between getting home from work and having to leave again.
3. Add in the bread and baking if you do those. We bake bread every two days, and bake muffins or other things for breakfast/snacks twice a week. Since those are pretty critical, they’re the first priority in our meal plans.
3. Make a list of perishable things you need to use up. You can tick them off as you make your meal plan.
4. Start picking dishes! Make sure the first few days on the week are dishes that produce ample leftovers for your lunches, like casseroles, stews, or slow-cooked dishes.
5. Make sure you don’t have too much going on in one day. We try not to cook dinner, make bread, and also bake something else in the same day, unless it’s a weekend. It’s not going to happen if you’re tired from work and just want to rest. Be realistic.
6. Try to incorporate one new recipe per week. There are numerous recipe websites, and your local library has a ton of cookbooks if you need ideas.
7. Try not to repeat the sames things week over week, or you’ll get sick of things pretty quick. I try not to repeat something more than once very three weeks, unless it’s peanut butter cookies.
8. You may want to taper down near the end of the week with dishes that don’t make leftovers so you don’t get too much of a ready-to-eat backlog and can start fresh every weekend.
And there you have it – a functional meal plan that’s designed around your life!