One big essential part of budget cooking is meal planning. When you plan ahead, you will make everything from cooking to shopping much easier for yourself and for the family. Think about how much time you plan to spend on cooking. Do you have a lot of time to spend cooking dinner? Do you want to make meals ahead of time to heat up for dinner? It all depends on how your days go and it does not matter what you do! It doesn’t matter if you work 10 hours a day and only have 15 minutes to cook dinner or if you just don’t want to spend more than a few minutes because you don’t like to cook or if you have hours to cook. All that matters is that you plan your meals and figure out what needs to be bought for the week instead of just throwing together food throughout the week and being stressed. Stress over food almost always ends in ordering out or spending more money than needed.
I’ll spend quite a bit of time on meal planning throughout the site. I’ll share my meal plans and try to help you come up with ideas on what you can plan too!
The great thing is there are no rules! There is no right or wrong to meal planning. Just set aside a few moments each week to plan out what you want to do for the next week based on the next week’s appointments – after-school activities, evening plans, travel. Figure out how many meals you will need to have planned ahead of time.
Next, think about how much time you will have each day to make the meal. If you don’t have much time, consider slow cooker recipes or freezer meals you can prepare at the beginning of the week.
Come up with a budget for the week. This is where budgeting for your entire family comes in handy. I won’t go into that here but figure out how much money you have available and check out sales and seasonal produce for the next week in order to make sure you can make the most of your money. I budget my meals about $50 for 4 (It used to be $50 every 2 weeks but now I have 2 near teenage boys and one has to eat 3k calories a day for Track and Field so we had to up the amount of food we make for them.)
Find recipes you will need and keep them all in one spot (I recommend Pinterest) Once you know what you plan to make each day, you’ll be ready for food prep. I’ll share ways to do that in another post. For now, I want everyone to take out a piece of paper or open a notebook on their computer. Write down every day of the week on the left-hand side and start figuring out how many meals you need and how much time you’ll have to cook for each one. We will get into the rest next!