Meal planning can be very overwhelming, so I wanted to share a few ideas to simplify the process. Ideally, you would want to start small, maybe just focus on dinners at first. Find what works for you so that it becomes second nature. It will definitely be worth the time and money you will save.
Start with the Protein
All of my meal plans start with the protein. If I see that chicken is on sale this week, I stock up! Cook it all up, divide it into family-sized portions, and freeze it. There are so many things you can do with chicken. Cube it, shred it, fry it. It’s one of the most diverse foods ever.
If your family gets sick of chicken easily, plan a menu with chicken 3 days out of the week, and different sources of protein such as beans for the other nights.
If you stock up on chicken one week and pork the next week, you’ll easily be able to rotate through them in the same week so your family won’t get bored. Eventually, you’ll have a nice little freezer stash of protein options and you can choose a different one for each night of the week!
When talking protein, don’t forget non-meat protein sources such as beans, eggs, chickpeas, and quinoa. Even carnivorous family members won’t miss the meat if you make an awesome veggie burger!
Time Saving Tips
Use Pinterest, but don’t use Pinterest. Well, that’s pretty confusing, isn’t it? I love Pinterest, because I get so many great ideas from it! However, Pinterest (and all social media) can also be a huge time-suck. If you’re like me and get sucked in easily, set a timer for 30 minutes. Use that time to search for “chicken recipes”, “easy chicken recipes”, “simple chicken recipes”, “crock pot chicken recipes”, etc.
Create a board, naming it something like “Chicken Recipes” – or maybe “July Menu Plan”. Whatever works for you!
When you find a recipe you want to use, click through to make sure it goes to the actual recipe. Look over the ingredients, the time involved, etc. If you want to add it to your menu plan, do so by pinning it to your Menu Plan Board.
One good thing about creating a monthly menu plan is that you can revisit and reuse the recipes. Making a chicken recipe board can get overwhelming because you might end up with 100 pinned recipes. You want to keep it simple!
Another thing I like to do – but be careful of the time-suck – is join Facebook recipe groups. Just join one or two, so you don’t get too bombarded with notifications, but they can be a great resource for ways to save money on menu planning.
If you are a pen and paper kind of person, download this printable meal planner from our sister site. It includes a shopping list area to keep all your ideas in one spot.
If you ever feel like it’s too much work to plan a monthly (or even weekly) menu, enlist the help of your significant other and/or kids. Most of the time, kids find it fun to help scour the ads and come up with food ideas. Who knows, they might think of something you overlooked!
Other Helpful Tools & Resources
- The Best Meal Plan For Bulk Cooking & Leftovers
- 5 Meal Planning Tips for Beginners
- eMeals (Personal Meal Planner: Classic and Diet Specific Plans Available)
- Fix, Freeze, Feast: The Delicious, Money-Saving Way to Feed Your Family
- Freezer Meals: Easy Make-Ahead Freezer Meals for Your Slow Cooker: (Freezer meals cookbook, Freezer cooking, Make ahead meals)
- The Fresh 20: 20-Ingredient Meal Plans for Health and Happiness 5 Nights a Week