Do you meal plan? Do you want to learn how to meal plan like a pro? You have come to the right place! We are passionate about meal planning at Whipped It Up, and I am here today to teach you all of my tips and tricks!
A meal plan can change your life. It cuts grocery costs, reduces food waste, and you will have to stress about "what's for dinner" ever again!
A few rules right out of the gate
Rule #1- You have heard it before, but I will tell you again. Whatever you do, DO NOT GO TO THE GROCERY STORE WHEN YOU ARE HUNGRY. You will likely end up with all of isle 7 in your grocery cart, and it will most defiantly be things that you don't need.
Rule #2- Do not veer from the grocery list. I am guilty of this, often I will be walking through the produce and something will stand out to me, something not on my list. I will buy it, with no plan, and it will get shuffled into the back of the fridge never to be seen again.
are you guilty of unplanned meals?
I know I used to be TERRIBLE for this.
Stopping at the grocery store on the way home from work every day. It ends up costing so much and I used to be majorly guilty of this. Scheming up a meal on the commute home and swinging into the grocery store. Sure $30 here and $40 there doesn’t seem too bad at the time, but if you add it up, that number can scare you. And just wait until you add in the breakfast and lunch stops…
Alright, so let's say you stop 4 times per week at the grocery store and buy food for dinner. You spend an average of $35/trip, that works out to $140 for dinner every week, and dont forget, you’re 3 dinners short still. Then add in $10/day for breakfast and another $10 for lunch x 2 people, times 5 days in a work week, that’s another $200. So now for ONE week the theoretical total is around $340. Now multiply that by 2 weeks, that is somewhere around $680 for two people for two weeks of meals!!!
I know this can be a little exaggerated, but this is how we used to shop until we found some ways to save money. We took all our bank statements and added them up (if you do this, make sure you are sitting down). We discovered we were well over $1000 per month in restaurants/take-out/groceries. I could not believe it, and this is the day I started to meal plan.
Right now we spend around $250-$300 (sometimes way less than that even!) every two weeks. This covers 3 meals per day, for two adults. That’s for 45 meals, working out to around $5 per meal, $2.50 each. Keep in mind, the majority, if not all of our meals are homemade. I typically don’t buy the pre-made meals.
Overspending and under using
How many times have you opened the fridge or pantry that is full of food and said "we have nothing to eat, let's order in".
Now you will always have something to eat, you will have a plan for every item in that fridge.
The key to making sure you use everything before it expires is being able to SEE everything.
I organize our fridge once every 6 months or so, check expiry dates on condiments and wipe everything down. This is a good rule to follow to make sure everything is in check and not expired. Because the WORST thing ever is thinking you have everything to make the meal and opening the jar of sundried tomatoes to be greeted by a mass of stink and mold. EW!
How I organize the fridge
Condiments on the door, veggies and fruit in the crispers, cheese/eggs/meat in the dairy crisper, and all other items out in the open.
The freezer is a little different. We only have one freezer, the one on the refrigerator. We used to have a deep freeze, but it became a dumping ground for all the food we didn’t really want to eat, but kept telling ourselves we would, it would eventually go bad and we would throw it all out.
Now, our freezer is almost always emptied before it is refilled and I throw out virtually nothing. We have lived with this methold for 5 years now, and I have only been frustrated a handful of times. Although, now that I live by my meal plan I have actually been looking into getting another deep freeze, just for sanity's sake.
Same goes for the pantry. I organize the shelves and group like foods together. Pastas, snack food, grains, cans, beans, soups, baking stuff. We have an insanely small pantry, so all of my sugar, flour, and a load of sprinkles, etc. are all kept in a different cupboard.
The bottom line of all this organization, is so you are able to see everything you have!
Now that everything is organized, let’s write the meal plan!
Writing a Meal Plan
First, take stock of what you already have in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. This should be easy because you will be able to see it all!
Next, I like to keep a list of our go to recipes in the notes section of my phone. This will be helpful when you are planning your meal plan.
Then I print out a basic meal plan chart. Get your FREE template now!
You can also use a basic calendar or digital calendar.
Grab a piece of paper for your grocery list, and let’s get started!
First, fill out the dates, and then the meals column. Fill in 15-17 meals, this is where that list of go to recipes comes in handy!
Next, plan when you will make the meals. First, fill in all the days that you know you won’t be making dinner.
Now, fill in the planner with the meals and corresponding dates that you want to make them, and cross them off as you go. For this step, I usually only do one week at a time, even though we shop for two weeks at a time.
For breakfast and lunch we do the same thing for one week at a time.
Then I copy my meal plan for the week onto our family white board in the kitchen so it is open and visible to everyone. It is 90% set in stone, but things come up, and sometimes we have to switch around the meals or days. Just keep in mind, if you have something perishable in the fridge remember that meal can’t be shuffled a week down the line.
How to write a grocery list
Grab a piece of paper.
Since breakfasts and lunches are the easiest, I start with that. So write down everything you will need for those meals.
Now, one day at a time, go through the meal plan. If you don’t know the recipe by heart, it helps to pull out the recipe and read through it item by item. Make sure you refer back to the list of food that you already have in the freezer, and check as you go so you don’t end up with 3 packages of parsley… (not speaking from experience or anything ?).
Anything that you need, add to the list.
Here is an example of how I write my grocery list. I usually always shop at two stores, and divide my list accordingly.
If you want to save a few bucks, check through your local flyers and see what is on sale!
There is an app I use for this, called Flipp. It is AMAZING. I am not an affiliate, and this is not sponsored, I just love the platform! Flipp gathers all of the local flyers and compiles them in an easy, user friendly app!
Meal planning has seriously changed our lives and we save so much time and money because of it!
Later this week we will be sharing our favourite recipes for meal planning, so keep your eyes open for that!
We would love to know if this article was helpful for you and your family!