I hate cooking. Unless I feel like cooking. And trust me, that feeling doesn’t come along often. When it does, I usually make cinnamon rolls.
But woman cannot live on cinnamon rolls alone- unless she wants health problems.
So I find myself cooking.
But because I’m me, I like to find ways out of doing things I don’t like. 😜 (I’m still trying to figure a way out of labor for this baby…)
So I began looking into different ways to save time cooking. I’ve found a wide variety of ways to do that. But the best thing that has saved me time in the kitchen, is meal planning.
When I have an entire month of meals planned out, I’m able to go to the store buy my groceries, prep what I can ahead of time, and then I’m not wasting more time in the store- which is ALWAYS a nice thing when you have 2 toddlers.
*The following contains affiliate links.*
How To Use Meal Planning To Save Time And Money:
1. Plan simple meals.
You don’t have to be Master Chef extrodinaire.
You can go with simple, healthy meals that don’t take you years to cook.
USUALLY, (not always) simpler meals are healthier. When you have a protein, veggie, and fruit, it’s going to be a lot better for you than if you make cinnamon rolls for lunch.
When I focus on eating “simpler” I find that we eat closer to a paleo diet, or the Whole 30.
I’ll cook a meat, usually the only thing I add is some seasoning, and then we’ll have fruits and veggies as our sides.
The bonus about simple meals, is there aren’t any complicated recipes. You prepare your veggies and meat, and then you’re ready to go!
The key to successful meal planning in my opinion, is to not overcomplicate things.
2. Write your grocery lists for the month.
When you have your list made out ahead of time, it helps cut down on impulse buying at the grocery store. This definitely saves you money.
If you have the entire month of meals planned out, you’re less likely to buy groceries that will simply go to waste.
When you grocery shop only once a month it saves you soooo much time in the grocery store. That’s an especially beautiful thing when you have young kids you take with you. 😂
This note pad from Amazon is great to use for planning meals in advance:
And if you need some inspiration on meals, here’s a free brainstorm list for you!
3. Stick to the plan!!
The key to saving time and money with a meal plan is to actually FOLLOW the meal plan.
I’ve done this before:
- Made the meal plan.
- Gone grocery shopping.
- Changed my mind.
- Gone back to the grocery store and bought a bunch of stuff.
- Gone home and wondered what I was going to cook for dinner that night.
A meal plan is only worth it if you follow it!
I highly suggest simplifying your meal plans: If you’ll stick with crock pot cooking, do that. If you’ll stick with instant pot cooking, go for it. Maybe meal prepping for the entire week is your thing. Or you just want simple 15 minute meals you can throw together when you get home from work or pick up the kids from sports.
Have the tools ready to go that you like to use!!
4. Let others do the work for you.
There are lots of meal plans available out there! You can save yourself time by letting others do the planning for you.
Check out my own store The Planner Boutique for some simple fifteen minute dinner meal plans that take the planning work out of it. You can reuse the meal plan over and over!
Find cookbooks that will help you make the type of food you like!
I’m personally a little obsessed with Pioneer Woman’s food. I mean, the woman understands how delicious butter is, what’s not to love???
5. Reuse the same plans.
You don’t have to make up a new plan every month. If you want, you can keep reusing the one that works for you. Have a month of meal plans that you love? Go ahead and use that plan 12 times a year! Ain’t nobody gonna give you crap over that.
If you buy a meal plan, you’ve especially saved yourself time and money, especially if you find budget friendly meal plans or meal prepping guides.
6. Change up the type of dinners you do.
Not every day is the same. If it is, I am impressed with how disciplined you are.
That being said, if you are writing your own meal plans you can mix up the type of dinners you’re making to fit with what your day is like. (You can also print your own free fillable meal plan worksheets.)
Whether your home, at work all day, or just too tired to cook again, you can mix and match the type of meals you make based on your family’s routine!
- Gone all day= crockpot dinner.
- On the go all week= meal prep.
- Long day at work but still want a sit down dinner with the family= 15 Minute meals.
- Don’t want to cook all month= freezer meals.
What are your favorite ways to meal plan? Do you prefer to make your own? Purchase them? Make a plan based on what’s in the pantry?
Comment and tell me how you usually manage meals! 😊