I have found that a sure-fire way to get fat and be broke is to not plan weekly dinners (and lunch if you work in an office or home setting). I’m a teacher, so I don’t have a choice but to pack breakfast and lunch (which is typically leftovers). However, on weeks when I don’t plan and shop for set dinner meals, we end up eating out like 3 of the 7 nights, and eating random junk another 3 of the 4 nights left. Ouch on the abs and the wallet. My pretty fail-proof method is:
1. Pin realistic dinners on Pinterest.
I have a whole board dedicated to dinners, and I have another board called “Meals that Worked.” When one of those Pinterest recipes turns out successful, I move it there. One easy mistake to make is to pin gourmet chef meals that require a lot of time and strange or uncommon ingredients. Chances are, you’ll never actually make it.
2. Each Saturday (or whatever day you pick), access your Pins or your brain for a week’s worth of recipes.
Pick 7 and simply write them down or keep mental note. If you know there’s going to be a few days where you have to eat on the go, then just pick 5 or 6. I always shoot to eat in at least 5 days a week. On the weekends, we treat ourselves.
3. From those meals, make a grocery list.
Check out the Pinterest recipes, or the ones you’ve memorized, and make a grocery list for the meals. I usually make my list on Saturday and shop on Sunday (a.k.a. Sunday paper coupon day). I prefer a paper list over an app.
4. Look at your weekly schedule and place meals on certain days.
Something else to consider is how ling each meal takes to prep and cook. I save quick meals for hectic nights or days I have faculty meetings. This is where crockpot meals come into play, too!
To do step #4, I use the app MealSchedule. I searched through a billion apps that wanted me to enter in full recipes before I could drag and drop them to the weekly menu. This 0.99¢ app lets me JUST plan meals, nothing more, and that’s all I needed. My favorite part is that you can move meals (or just parts of a meal) to other days in an instant. Plans never work 100% when you have a 1-year-old, a demanding job, and a night-shifter husband. This app isn’t a mega popular one, so it’s a little primitive looking, but it functions perfectly! See my screen shot of this week’s meals below. (We are moving Thu/Fri, hence the takeout meals).