Meal planning makes a lot of sense, saves a lot of money, time and a whole lot of worry. The key to successful meal planning is seeing what you have, seeing what you need and marrying the two and the best way to do that is by writing it all down on paper. And we’ve created just the downloadable to help you start!
- First, take inventory: What do you have on hand? Writing down what you have available will help you brainstorm what to make.
Sustainability tip: Checking your fridge and pantry before you go shopping can help avoid buying foods you already have and decrease food waste.
- Get inspired: Pull out those cookbooks and favorite recipe cards and give them another look over. Write down the ingredients for your meals and then cross reference your recipe list with your on-hand list.
- Create your menus: Creating menus that use similar ingredients saves you money since you are not spending too much on one-offs. Building subsequent meals around one main one can make planning easier and less expensive.
- Make your list: Checking your ingredients and writing them down will make your meal planning go smoothly. Just the act of writing down anything, even a grocery list, can help you remember exactly what you need.
Sustainability tip: If given the option, choose paper bags! They’re easy to recycle or make a great compost starter – you can even throw in used coffee filters and tea bags, shredded newspaper, cardboard, paper, saw dust and wood chips.
- Get to shopping: Whether you peruse from aisle to aisle or head straight for what you need, make the conscious decision to purchase foods that come in paper-based packaging. Not only because they can be recycled, but because they come from trees, a sustainable resource. You may start to notice more and more produce, frozen foods and some popular brands changing their packaging to paper to help give you more options!
- Pro tip: Don't grocery shop on an empty stomach if you don't want to buy more than you planned!
A few added reminders and recommendations:
Don’t over plan! Get used to the meal plan lifestyle by planning fewer meals at first. It’s like learning anything else, a little at first goes a long way.
Mix it up! Mix in family favorites with newer recipes but also batch cook a favorite stew, roast or casserole and freeze those meals ahead of time.
SAVE those meal plans! Meal planning and grocery lists are supposed to make life easier. Save previous meal plans and grocery lists in a folder or binder. Then just pull one for those weeks when you don’t have time to plot or plan.
Finally, remember to recycle any food packaging made from paper or cardboard. Print out this recycling reference sheet to make it easy!
If you're looking for more ways to use paper to help you plan, take a look at these printable templates focused on helping you stay organized.