Friday, February 06, 2015

Fantastical Friday: Meal Planning Mania

I love love love to meal plan. I started doing it when I was 16 and worked to pay for groceries for myself, mom, and little brother. I learned right off the bat to plan to save money. It's the only way. Plan what you are going to buy to avoid buying a bunch of crap that you can't eat for dinner! :) I shared 5 tips and go-to recipes years ago when I did a blog swap and those are still pretty accurate, but I have updated my methods.

Now that I'm a recipe hoarder - there is a lot more for me to choose from. When I was first meal planning, it was tacos, tatortot hotdish, spaghetti, box meals, etc. Technology has also come a long way since 2005. So today I am going to share how and what I use to meal plan nowadays!

First up, my Erin Condren Life Planner. This baby goes with me everywhere and I use it for everything. I have blogged about it a few times {here, here - both posts have $10 off first purchase links} and could not imagine using any other kind. My planner is where I write down what recipes I'm planning on making. It's color-coordinated - meal planning is blue and resides at the very bottom.

Another huge part of my meal planning is technology! I now use Pinterest, our Nexus 7 tablet, and Out of Milk app for meal planning and getting my grocery list ready. I have hoarded so many recipes on my Pinterest recipe boards and a majority come from food blogs. Food blogs make me happy! I will usually take a Saturday morning and plan for a month using our Nexus 7 tablet and Pinterest. I move recipes I want to make onto the "My Meal Plan" board and write them down in my planner, so I can make sure that I don't have too many of one kind of meal in a week. I like variety :)

Typically, I don't make my grocery list until the day before I go shopping. Again, I take Saturday mornings to make my grocery list. I will open up a tab of the "My Meal Plan" board and open each recipe in a new tab. Then I grab my phone and open up the Out of Milk app. I found about this app through Carrie of Frugal Foodie Mama. I love it - you can scan barcodes, use voice functionality to make your list (although I hate anything where you have to speak like that), use your history to add items, add prices to items, make notes on items, and categorize them. When I make physical grocery lists, I have always separated them into categories: produce, boxes/cans, frozen/dairy, meat, and other. Once you have an item added to your list and categorize it for the first time, it'll automatically go there when you add it in the future.  It's a pretty nifty little app.

My weekly plan usually consists of two breakfast meals (because I am so not good at time management in the mornings), 5 dinner meals, and possibly a snack, appetizer, or dessert in there. My five dinner meals are usually a variety of chicken, pork, beef, and turkey. We shoot for only one pasta meal a week and typically a "Mexican" food for Tuesdays. Fridays, we alternate pizza and burgers.

So how do you meal plan? Do you use apps, planners, Pinterest? How far in advance do you meal plan?

If you have any questions for me, feel free to leave a comment OR shoot me an email: fantasticalsharing1 at gmail dot com.


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