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Meal Planning with a FREE Customizable Printable Menu Planner {Download}

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I have to admit that for years I read about bloggers who swore by meal planning and I wanted nothing to do with it. I didn’t think I needed it. Then I thought it took too much time. I also didn’t want to be tied down to a plan. I wanted to eat what I was in the mood to eat that day. Fast forward a couple years and add 3 children, homeschooling and managing 3 businesses while trying to maintain the home and a budget… I needed help! I finally tried it and learned to like it. It took me several weeks to figure it out, get a routine going and learn to enjoy it. Once I started menu planning it not only saved me sanity, it saved me money and food! Once I started meal planning properly it became a safe haven for our budget.

How to Meal Plan Properly:

  1. Shop Your Refrigerator, Freezer & Cupboards!
    - Look for perishable items that need to get used up. Such as the half eaten bag of carrots, celery and potatoes that are beginning to sprout. Write these items down in the items to use category.
    - Once you have determined what you need to use you may have some ideas on what meals you can prepare with those items, go ahead and write them down in the notes category.
  2. Review Recipes!
    Pull out the recipes that you may want to cook with the items in the items to use category and see if you have all the items needed to make those recipes. If you need an item write it down in the shopping list category.
  3. Review Sales Flyers!
    Look through your sales flyers to see what items are on sale. Check for items that you will need for your recipes and also check for commonly used items or items that you may be running low on. Write those down in the shopping list category.
  4. Review your Plan!
    You may come up with other recipe ideas depending on what food you need to use up and what is on sale. Pull out those recipes and make sure you have all the ingredients or write down ingredients you may need to purchase.
  5. Check for Substitutes!
    If you have a recipe that you would like to cook but you don’t have an ingredient and it is not on sale and you really don’t want to pay full price for it, check to see if you can substitute it! Say you want to make pancakes one day but you plan to use up all of your eggs on another meal and you don’t want to run to the store or pay full price for eggs. Check and see what substitutes you can use, such as a banana. Wonder how I know this? Yes, I recently made pancakes with no eggs and instead I googled a substitute for eggs and found that I could substitute 1/2 of a banana for each egg. We just happened to have 1 banana and the recipe called for 2 eggs so I was set. The pancakes turned out great and they had just a hint of banana to them that made for a nice change in taste! I have used applesauce in place of oil, and have made buttermilk with regular milk and vinegar. Really there are a lot of substitutes you can use and this is a wonderful way to save you money and from running to the grocery store!
  6. Review Your Schedule!
    I find it very important to write down activities that I have going on for the week before I even try to plan what meals I will make when.
  7. Plan Your Meals!
    Finally you can plan your meals. When I see that we have ballet on Monday afternoon and I will not be home to slave in the kitchen all afternoon, I make sure to schedule a quick easy meal or slow cooker meal that I can prepare earlier in the day. Now just because you write down that you are having meatloaf on Thursday does not mean you have to be tied to it. It is just a general guide. I change meal days up all the time after I have planned them, either because my mood has changed or something comes up. I do however tend to keep the same meal that I planned on those days that we have activities scheduled, since I pre-planned an easy to prepare meal for that day.

Now you can plan your meals with ease with the ecoMomical Me Customizable Menu Planner!

  • Do you start your meal plans on Wednesday instead of Sunday? You can edit the days of the week to fit your menu planning needs!
  • Would you like to plan an afternoon snack instead of dessert? You can edit the meals to fit your menu planning needs!
  • Do you have a long list of items to use up? You can change the planner sheet titles to fit your needs.

Download the ecoMomical Me Customizable Menu Planner

TIP: Slip this menu planner in a sheet protector and use a fine point wet erase marker to write in all your information each week. This will save you paper & ink and ultimately save you more money!

Do you have any ideas or suggestions? We would love to hear about them in the comments below!

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4 Responses to “Meal Planning with a FREE Customizable Printable Menu Planner {Download}”

  1. Katrena says:

    Thank You!! This is awesome! I really like the part about using up what is in the fridge first!

  2. Suzanne says:

    Thank you!

  3. Hollie says:

    Hello! I too have been wanting to delve in the world of food planning for some time and this has been an inspiration. I have downloaded your menu planner and can’t wait to get started! Thanks again for sharing this :)

  4. Pam says:

    I love this idea and that you for the posting it as editable and giving it away for free. I have had this on my mind for several months and with all the time spent on research and planning for homeschooling, I have not had time to get this done on my own. Thank you

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