Dinner time for me is a struggle, I absolutely hate the thought process that goes behind trying to plan a meal every night. Let alone going to the grocery store, it has always felt like a huge nightmare.
This year I have found that my stress levels were high, and that making dinner was triggering this for me. The stress of trying to plan meals out quickly on school nights was becoming too much, and we were wasting so much food that we weren't eating.
I had seen a few people who plan their meals at the beginning of the week, but our Sundays now include hockey practice, and other activities, that the last thing I wanted was to plan the week of food, do the grocery shopping and still enjoy time with the family.
I had heard of people talking about Monthly Meal planning and I wanted to give it a try, Weekly prior to this I was spending around $200 + on food.
In our family some meals our children don't like so I like to have stuff on hand, to make the kids if they don't like what we have, but most of the time, our kids get our dinner deconstructed..
For the days that the kids don't eat what we eat I planned an option for them that was quick and easy. I tried to be creative, because I was finding we were always just eating different flavored marinated chicken with rice, and a veggie - our life had become very dull.
I also wanted to make food, that we had some supplies for already, example being like food we had in our freezer, and then I always purchased the staples for the kid’s lunches and breakfast etc.
The Perks of Planning 1 month of meals:
1. More time to spend with family
2. Less food Waste
3. Spent less on groceries (anywhere from $50-75 a week)
4. More effective time management for grocery shopping, and Dinner time.
By planning my meals a month ahead it allowed me to spend less time at the grocery store, because I knew what I was shopping for and my grocery lists were much more accurate instead of trying to decide what to make for the week at the store. It also cut down my time at the store. Dinner time was much faster as well because I knew what I was making that day and what needed to be done, which made it less stressful and allowed me to spend more time with my family. I also noticed my grocery bill was more around $150-$170 instead of $200 +. Weeks when I noticed I would spend more is when I needed to stock up on pantry or toiletry items. However overall I was spending less on groceries
1. It can take a lot of time to plan
2. Sometimes I had leftovers so I skipped meals and would push things to the next week because I had already bought groceries
I found that Planning the meals took about 1 hour once a month, and sometimes a bit more, I would spend time going through my freezers to see what items I had as well as what I had in the pantry. I did find that sometimes I was eating leftovers and skipping meals and pushing things to the next day or swapping things around and it wasn’t really a down side, But sometimes I wasn’t in the “mood” for what was scheduled.
I really enjoyed this method of planning, as I tried to include all the members of our family in planning the meals, to ensure that everyone would eat and enjoy them! Overall I think we will continue to do this, once the garden starts producing more as well, I know we will be eating more salads and veggies and so it will be great to include this and continue to see our grocery cost go down.