7.19.2012

Meal Planning Tips and Tricks + Free Downloads!

One of our favorite summertime meals to make: Grilled pizzas!  And it is a team effort-even better!
When life gets busy- it is nice to have as many resources in your "I can do everything somehow" arsenal, and here is a post to help you get there.  Check out some of the menu planning templates (even a custom one designed by yours truly for you!).  Here is the low-down on what these are and how to use them.

Why choose menu/meal planning?
Saving Money. Meal and menu planning can cut a good chunk of change out of your grocery budget because you are planning what you will eat and then will know what to buy. Do you think $100 is outrageous to spend on weekly groceries? Me, too. Even though I have done it before. Meal planning can cut your costs in half, and if you look for sales-even further!

Saving Time.  Does anyone really want to look through their cupboards at six o' clock after working nine hours? I sure don't.  With meal planning you not only know what you will be making, but you know you have all the right ingredients.  Another bonus is that the "secondary" cook in the home (aka my lovely husband, Josh) can easily help out because they already know what they are supposed to make and what to use! It is all about simplicity and efficiency folks.

Healthier choices.  Have you ever ate something that probably wasn't the best choice for lunch or dinner but did it anyways because it was fast and convenient. I am also guilty of this one. With meal planning you can stick to a healthier diet with ease. You can probably even take the convenience foods off your grocery list entirely once you get the hang of it.

How to use them wisely?
Plan out meals your excited about. Pick out your favorites and plan them into your week. If you are planning for more than one-take their favorites into consideration, too. For example, I really enjoy lighter foods, but my husband can enjoy a heartier meal, so having a balance of both is crucial for us.  

Be aware of your ingredients (aka grocery) list. If you are making a dish that includes a less than typical ingredient-try to plan another meal using the same in order to cut down on costs/wastefulness.  Plan out your meals the day before you plan on going grocery shopping and check your cupboards/fridge for what you need. This will help avoid doubling on things you already have.

Think simple. Sticking to simple, healthy meals are a great way to keep your evening open.  If you want to try a more complicated recipe-pick a weekend night for that meal. The easier you make it for yourself, the more success you will find.

Extra tips & tricks
Save your plans. Print out a few of these and write out 4-5 weeks worth of meals or save them as you go. Try not to repeat too many meals or make variations of your favorites throughout. Once you have gone through all of them, just repeat and you already have all of your planning done. Change it up every few weeks or so by adding in a new menu plan and you will be surprised at how easy your life has become.

Save your list. Remember when you printed out a few of these and had your whole month planned out (and ready for reuse later!)?  Well simply use the back of the menu to write out your grocery list. Once you pick out your menu for that week, you already have your grocery list ready to go.  Just make sure to double check your current suppliers, and you are all set.

Frame your plan.  The great thing about all the templates that are available for you to download below is that they are good-lookin'.  Print out one of those cuties, get a frame from Hobby Lobby (using their 40% off coupon that is ALWAYS on their website to print off), and frame your meal plan after you are done grocery shopping. This way it is up in kitchen for you to look at whenever you need it, but keeps it clean and in good shape. Use a dry-erase marker to mark off meals that you already made, or for special notes. You can even keep your other menus behind the "featured" one so that you know where they are at all times.

Site your sources. When planning out meals and picking out recipes (if you want to use recipes that is-otherwise-here's to you, you daredevil of a woman), make sure to write down the name of the cookbook and page in bottom corner of that meals "area", this will keep you happy later.  Print off a lot of recipes online or bookmark them? Just make sure you let yourself know where to easily find it.


I hope these tips and tricks help make your life just a but easier!
Ready, set, plan!


The Templates
Choose from one of these adorable templates below to ease your meal planning!  Below each template is a link where you can download the file, and make sure to visit the blogs where they've come from (don't worry I linked the downloads and blogs for you already!).  Enjoy! Bon appetit!

The Playful One
Click HERE to download this funky design by Future Girl
The Eclectic One
Click HERE to download this cute design by Ollibird
The Chic One
Click HERE to download this chic design from The Project Girl
The Classic One
Click HERE to download this classic design by The Project Girl

Or download a free WRR original design!
Click BLUE, PURPLE, or PINK to download this exclusive design from When Regarding Ruffles!

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