2. Check the Calendar.
Decide how long you want to grocery shop for. (We do every 2 weeks.) Pull out your calendar and look through all of the days. See how many evenings you plan on eating at home and get that as a total number.
Then decide your cook:leftover ratio. For every 4 meals I cook we do 1 leftover night. This puts us doing leftovers about 3 times during our plan. Subtract how many leftover meals you will have from your previous total and now you know how many recipes you need.
3. Choose a variety of meals.
Select your meals keeping in mind quantity of leftovers, cost, and style of food. We love leftovers for lunch so we try to make mostly meals that have left overs. Occasionally we will make tacos or fish knowing that there won't be any but I make sure to balance those with larger meals. As far as cost, sometimes it's in the budget for us to splurge a little more on meal cost and get steak or shrimp for a meal. With style, for example, I would eat Mexican food every day (no lie) but Joel is not THAT crazy about it. So we will only have one each week or two. I also try to add in at least 1, if not 2, new recipes a week so we can have a constant rotation.
4. Schedule, schedule, schedule!
I look at my meals and try to balance all of those varieties I just discussed. See it as making a puzzle.
I usually make a large meal 2 days before a leftover night so we're not doubling up back to back. On nights that I have to be somewhere quickly, I use up that Crock Pot.
Make the plan and then be SOMEWHAT flexible.
Say you come home and your stomach feels upset, you probably don't want Chili Pasta Bake. But swap it out with Chicken Noodle. Always do swaps with something comparable in size or taste so you keep your variety going!
Maybe you have some questions....
How long does this take? To pick my meals, get my list made, and make my plan it usually takes 45min-1hr every 2 weeks. When you think about the time it saves in deciding what's for dinner and wandering aimlessly in the grocery, I don't see that as too much time.
How does this save me money? You are ONLY buying what's on your list. You are planning to NOT eat out unless pre-budgeted. You are planning for leftover nights.
I would love to answer any other questions you have below!
I hope this helps you have a better routine in meals for your family!
Happy Meal Planning!