What’s for dinner?

Do you plan your meals ahead of time and do one grocery shopping per week?  Or do you decide each day what you will have for dinner and go to the store on your way home?  Even though I am extremely organized, I’ve always been the type of person that doesn’t decide what to make for dinner until it’s almost dinnertime.  I’ve finally decided that I am going to begin meal planning in an effort to save a little money (hopefully) and become more organized.  I took an idea that I saw on another blog, Healthy Tipping Point, and made a “meal planning binder”:

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My binder contains four sections:

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Weekly Meals:

This section contains my weekly meal list:

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Along with the recipes for this week’s meals.  Most of the recipes I use I get online or from magazines I read, so I will print or tear them out.  I often times won’t use a recipe when cooking, so then I plan to write down the ingredients I will need for the meal.IMG_1653

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Recipe Ideas:

When reading a magazine, watching the Food Network, or browsing online I often find recipes that I would like to try.  However, I usually don’t save them, and thus never try them!  So now I plan to print/tear out recipes that I like and put them in this section of my binder, so that when Sunday rolls around I will have lots of ideas for meals for the week.

Grocery Lists:

This section will contain a running list of things I will need to buy when I do my weekly grocery shopping.  When I think of a meal I would like to cook for the following week, or find a new recipe, I will add the ingredients to the grocery list.

Coupons:

I always see coupons for things that I buy regularly but am really bad about remembering to bring them with me to the grocery store.  This section will allow me to keep all of the coupons in one spot and I hopefully won’t forget them!  I already spotted this coupon for Kefir in my Shape magazine, and I promptly cut it out and put it in the binder:

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So after making a list of meals for the week, and making a grocery list, I went to Whole Foods to do my grocery shopping.  I was a little nervous about how much I would end up spending, because normally I only go in to buy what I need for that night’s dinner, not a whole week of meals!  I had a full grocery cart by the end of my shopping trip:

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And I did score a free sample of a Pure Bar, which was absolutely delicious!

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So, my grocery total ended up being $175.  It sounds like a lot for two people, but consider the following:

  • We choose to eat all organic/natural food, which is more expensive – especially the organic meat and produce.
  • I choose to shop at Whole Foods because I know they carry all of the organic items I like.  Whole Foods is more expensive than Trader Joe’s and regular grocery stores.  I could buy some items at TJ’s and others at Whole Foods, but for now I’m doing all my shopping at WF for convenience.
  • I choose to cook recipes with lots of fresh ingredients – instead of a box of mac and cheese 🙂
  • We don’t eat out – my husband always takes the leftovers for lunch the next day and I make a sandwich or salad, and we both eat breakfast at home.

Hopefully with my new meal planning strategy and coupon clipping, I will be able to get the cost of our groceries down a bit.  But as some people say, “you can pay for your health now, or pay for it later.”  I’d rather pay for it now instead of eating off the dollar menu at McDonald’s. 🙂

After my time at Whole Foods I came home and decided to continue my organization spree by cleaning out our pantry.  Here is the final product:

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Well, it’s time to make dinner!  I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

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4 responses to “What’s for dinner?

  1. livelaughloveandrun

    I never plan dinner ahead, which ends up with me at the refrigerator deciding what I can throw together (or worse a bowl of cereal). I love the idea of the cooking binder! Something else I’m going to try is cooking/cutting all my veggies and meat on Sunday so that they are easily accessible for the week ahead.

    • That’s a great idea to cut everything up ahead of time! That’s always the part that I dread when cooking. I’m really excited about my new meal binder…it’s so nice to not have to worry about what to make for dinner tonight…I’m all ready to go!

  2. I am such a nerd with planning meals ahead – it’s the best though (I do it CPA style w/ an excel spreadsheet format haha)!! I also keep a similar binder for recipes, great go to when in search of ideas. In my notes I like to write any tweaks to the recipes that I make as well as how much we liked the recipe (i.e. must try again soon!) so I can remember – gosh I ammmmm a nerd!! Good job organizing girl!

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