Meal Planning Ahead
Ok, so when you say “meal planning,” do you mean I have to figure out a week’s worth of meals at once? I have a hard-enough time figuring out what to make on a day-to-day basis! Well, let me tell you, meal planning actually makes it EASIER! I sometimes fall off the wagon and slip back into old habits of not planning, and that’s usually when we end up spending a butt-ton more money on groceries and take out.
Since Travis left his job to work full-time writing from home, we have HAD to do some meal planning and hard-core cutting back on groceries and other expenses. I had been jotting down my meal plans for the week in a spiral notebook and then flipping the page to write my grocery list, but the kids inevitably steal my notebook and scribble all over it. I’m also having to re-invent meal ideas from week-to-week. I was making more work for myself, which made me more likely to quit meal planning and start spending more money. That’s not an option anymore.
How do I Start?
I took to Pinterest to find meal ideas on a budget. There are SO many options. It can be overwhelming, and honestly, some people’s budgets are just ridiculously high, or so dirt cheap that I would end up feeling like crap if I ate the unbalanced budget meals proposed. So, while I did get some recipe ideas from Pinterest, I mostly thought about what we like to eat, ways to stretch those meals, and ways to shop smarter for those meals. (Hint: look at what is on sale at your store each week and try to work in those sales to your meal planning.)
I started writing down all the meals that I thought of or found on Pinterest onto index cards, so that each meal was a stand-alone recipe. I wrote the name of each meal on the unlined side and then squeezed in the ingredients and directions on the lined side. Now, I can keep all of these index cards in a handy little box with extra index cards and a pen so that when inspiration strikes, I can add it to the collection. Now when I meal plan, I just have to thumb through the index cards to find meals that have ingredients on sale, are already in my pantry, or that I just want to make that week.
The next step in my meal planning journey is to build a meal planning board that allows me to clip each index card up under the day of the week that I will be making it. It will be centrally located so Travis and I can share in the meal prep and making responsibilities. That means, between the two of us, we hopefully won’t forget to take the chicken out to defrost!
What you Need to Make a Meal Planning Board
Here is how I made my meal planning board, using supplies I had laying around the house, and then you can make one too.
- Canvas (I think it is 16 x 16) but you could easily use a bulletin board or any other solid surface
- Fabric scraps
- Alligator clips (I had these from when I thought I would be crafty and make hair bows!)
- Hot glue gun
- Staple gun
I started by removing the old fabric from the canvas that I had covered it with for a wall hanging in our old house. Then I stapled the new, neutral colored fabric to the canvas. After that I used ribbon and a hot glue gun to cover the alligator clips and make them a little prettier. Then I spaced out my alligator clips on the board and hot glued them to the board. I did put some parchment paper between the sides of the clips so they didn’t stick together.
Picture Perfect(ish) Meal Planning
Voila! All done. The whole project, including finding the miscellaneous supplies around the house took me about 30 minutes. Now I have a place to hang my meal planning index cards each week to help make meal planning faster! I also posted pictures below to show each step of my meal planning board process. If you want to see more DIY projects, share this page on Facebook or Twitter, and give us a big old follow while you’re there.