Back on January 1st of this year my main goal was two fold...first, try 52 new recipes and, second, eat at home more to see how much money I could save. While browsing pinterest one day I found a great meal planning strategy. It was a pin by RubyGirl that was a meal planning board where you planned a whole months worth of food and put it on a monthly planner. At the bottom of the planner you added all the recipes for that particular month on an O ring. I went to RubyGirl's website and there was a template you could purchase to get you started. Back in April I decided to give it a try. I was already well on my way to trying all my new recipes but I wanted a way to plan better. So, I purchased the template and haven't regretted it a single moment! It has made my life so much easier.
I built my planner from the template and basically what you do is start out with a calendar white board. I purchased mine at our local Staples. Then you print out the dates and months and add magnetic strips to the back of them so that you can change them monthly. You then print out little stripes of paper that have all of your favorite meals on them and add them to the board. As an extra glittery bonus I took flat back rhinestones and glued them to round magnetic pieces to use as my holders for the meal ideas. Who needs a boring magnet when you can glitterize? RubyGirl also suggested printing all of your favorite recipes on recipe cards and hanging them on the board for easy access. I must admit that the first month or two I was wondering if it was really worth it because I felt like I was spending a whole lot of time getting recipes typed and printed. Now, almost 4 months later though, I don't know how I lived without this for so long!
This board works out great. Especially on days that Sammy is off or gets home before me because all he has to do it look at the board and see what's on the schedule to eat that night. He then goes right to our little recipe ring, finds the recipe with ease, and cooks us a great meal without once ever having to call me or ask questions. The board also works wonders when grocery shopping. By making out my meals for the month I already have a good idea as to what types of groceries I will need. I simply sit down on Friday night and look at all I plan to fix for the next two weeks. I then go the recipe ring and look to see what ingredients I will need. Once I have a pretty good idea of what I need, I then look in our pantry to see what we already have that I won't need to buy. This has worked out great in the fact that before I was meal planing like this I would spend $100.00 or more a week on groceries that would go bad because I had no idea what I was going to fix. Now for 2 weeks worth of groceries I am spending less than $60.00 and we pretty much go through all the food that I buy. If it's not on the list, we don't buy it.
Saturday is my grocery shopping day. Right after work on Saturdays my first stop is ALDI, a local discount grocery chain. I get all that I can purchase there and I then go to Ingles, a larger grocery store, to purchase the rest. At first I was anxious and nervous to try some of the food from AlDI, especially food that I had been used to eating for a long time that was name brand. In the end though I found that most "generic" brand food that I found at ALDI was really good. Now, because of my list, I'm in and out of the stores in no time and I have saved lots of money because I didn't buy name brand. I used to hate grocery shopping but my meal planning and food lists have made shopping a lot easier. Another great reason I love grocery shopping now is because most of the time I go by myself. I stick my ear buds in and listen to my latest book on audible. Before I had Grayson I would sit for hours on end reading but since he's came along reading has gotten complicated. Audible has allowed me to still be able to "read" while I'm grocery shopping, cooking, beading, etc. I found out recently that our local library offers free ebooks that you can "check out" so I'm going to try that out too!
If you've ever thought about meal planning I would highly recommend it. I wasn't disappointed and neither will you! Like I said, the first few months can seem overwhelming and daunting but after you get the hang of it, it works great! I tried to find RubyGirls website so that I could share the link to the food board but it says that the website has been taken down. I hope that you can get the gist from my pictures.