Don’t panic and throw in the towel here. I promise, this is a little time-consuming at first (the inventory part) but it is sooo helpful in the end. This is one of my favorite things to do especially when I’ve decided to do a “no-spend” challenge on groceries for the week.
You can use printables (my favorites are on my Meal Planning board on Pinterest, here), a Word document, or an spreadsheet. I like using Word, because once I’ve listed everything by pantry (cabinets), fridge, and Freezer, I then can arrange it easily into like groups (starches, meats, vegetables, etc.) using cut & paste. This makes it so much easier to see exactly what is on hand, and to come up with simple, quick meals based on a few ingredients.
To Meal Plan:
This you can do yourself, using your favorite “tried and true’s,” or you can use a meal planning service. Until recently we were using eMeals, the Classic Plan for Kroger, and we loved it. We did deviate on a regular basis, though. I never make all seven meals. Some nights we eat with friends or family, and some nights we do something really simple like sandwiches or chicken and potatoes. Other times we might want to do a favorite recipe, so I pencil that in on my meal planning form for the week. But recently, with some diet changes, we are doing all of our own menu planning for the moment. There is a meal planning service I’d like to try next month, which I mention below.
If you are single and using eMeals: Definitely don’t use all seven nights if you like to experiment with other recipes, or don’t want to eat left overs continuously. When I was single and using eMeals, I usually only did 3-5 nights out of the meal plan, especially when I had roomies that would share the cooking. Also, look at the meal planning services below for some options that might better suit your cooking situation for one or two. It’s a pain to cook for yourself all the time when you are single. But menu planning still helps keep the grocery costs down.
Meal Planning Services You Might Like:
EMeals: They have meal plans for 1-2 or Family sizes, and for almost every possible diet need or preference you can think of. When you sign up, you get two weeks free. Also has a mobile app.
$5Dollar Meal Plan by $5DollarDinners.com: For $5/month (after 14 days free) you get a meal plan emailed to you every week. You are supposed to be able to feed each person for $2/each and often less. The recipes on the website look easy and delicious, so I’m thinking the meal plans are too.
“Real Food” Free Meal Plans: Five 7-day plans for those of you who eat or want to make the change to eating only “real” food (i.e. not processed.) Free by email subscription from 100 Days of Real Food
Plan to Eat: Create your own menu plan and shopping list by adding your favorite recipes and then dragging and dropping them into the calendar.I’ve used it before and liked it a lot – but I still prefer to use pen and paper for my grocery list, so I’ve never stuck with it. Has a mobile app, and starts with a 30-day free trial.
Don’t Waste the Crumbs: I haven’t tried this one yet, but it is a month’s worth of Real Food planning, including breakfast & lunches. I’m struggling with keeping our grocery bill down now that we’ve switched to real foods/gluten free as we are trying to get our health to improve. I hope that by utilizing this meal planning service for a month or so, I’ll be able to get the hang of it and cut our grocery costs considerably. The mom who created the service feeds her family of four on $330/month. So here’s hoping!
If you know of any other meal planning sites that I’ve overlooked, please head over to Twitter or Facebook and share them with the rest of us!