Someone recently asked: Do you make a meal plan first and then shop? Or do you shop for food and plan your meals around what you have? What saves the most time and money?
I certainly can’t speak for everyone as to what saves the most time and money. And you know I highly recommend that you subscribe to receive our Simple Meals plans so that you don’t have to think as hard and work as hard. :)
What I have found to work best for me right now is this:
- Shop. Buy all the food. Buy more food. We need so much food.
- Try to stay organized. Have an entire grocery store inside my house if possible.
- Each morning, consider what the day holds. Meetings, appointments, court for the kids, Matt’s schedule, kids’ events, and so on. Once I think through what the evening will look like, I plan our evening meal accordingly.
- Along with that, I work with what we have on hand. I look through our fridge, freezers, and pantry. Then I decide on an evening meal that works!
This shelf sits in my kitchen, so I can look and get ideas with a quick glance. Pizza sauce and olives? I have crusts in the freezer so I could make pizza tonight. However, that is a meal I like to make on a night we have games or other outings. So I nix that idea and decide to make a burrito bar since I have plenty of tortillas and all the fixings on hand.
My meal planning decision is also dependent on how many people we’ll be feeding that night. Will it just be Matt, me, with the six littles? Or will all the bigs be home too? With their gals join us? Any other friends? We feed anywhere from 8 to 18 depending on the night. So I always get a feel for who will be around for dinner as I’m making our nightly plan.
Isn’t it harder this way?
This current method means that I’m coming up with a meal plan every single morning. But because of our very full house and so many coming and going, I am finding that planning day by day works so much better than planning ahead for the week and then reshuffling it because of what each weekday holds.
What saves the most money?
Again, I can’t speak for everyone. But for me, right now, I believe that shopping first and meal planning later is saving me more money.
When I’m shopping, I can pick up meat that has been marked down – then I make meals based on the discounted meat I’ve found. I can take advantage of sale items, then make meals based on the deals I’ve found. I can pick up staples to keep on hand so that I can always make basic, easy meals with no effort.
This works well for me and saves money too!
What is working best for you right now as you plan meals?