Time to Plan: Master Meal Plan

I’ve mentioned several times that a great way to save money, without even using coupons, is to make a Weekly Menu Plan. Well, it seems like every time I go to sit down to make my menu plans for the week, my mind goes blank on the meals I know how to make. LOL. It seems my mind is too busy whirling with matching up coupons with sales with what I have on hand and coming up with recipes takes longer.

So I took some time this week to stop and make a “Master Meal Plan.” I just took a blank sheet of paper and started jotting down every single meal that I could think of that we eat on a regular basis. When I couldn’t think of any more, I took a “tour” of my fridge and pantry hoping that some items I had on hand would spark a recipe that I might have missed.

When I was all done, I decided I would organize them by a few categories and create an Excel Spreadsheet so I could update the Master Meal Plan whenever I made a recipe that I thought would become a long-time favorite. These are the categories I used for my sheet:

Casseroles-Pasta
Seafood
Main Meals
Grilling
Breakfasts
Side Dishes
Sandwiches
Soups

I didn’t add any one-time recipes that we might use. I’ll probably add them as separate column later if I feel that I need them. For now, I wanted to keep it fairly simple. It seems like when I complicate things or clutter it up too much, that I don’t end up using them.

So next time I sit down to make my Weekly Menu Plan, I can just pull out my Master Meal Plan sheet for ideas of some meals I can make with what I have on hand. I’m hoping it will streamline the process even more and possibly even keep me from repeating meals too much.

Last year, I picked up a Dry Erase Calendar that has magnets for hanging it on the fridge. This comes in handy for making the Weekly Meal Plans, too. I usually write the upcoming events on there so I can plan my meals around them. I picked mine up at Michaels with one of their 50% Off coupons. It might be a place to look for it if you are interested in getting one. I like that it’s dry-erase so I can easily switch things around if I need to. I hung my Master Meal Plan right next to my board and I’m all ready to fill in my calendar for the rest of the month.

For now, my sheet is just hung up with a magnetic clip but I’ll probably pick up a report cover to keep it from getting ruined. What I like about creating the sheet in Excel is that I can easily update the sheet later and re-print the new one. For now, I’ll just keep the sheet handy and pencil in any meals I may have forgot.

I’m hoping that this may help you in streamlining your process for creating a Weekly Menu Plan, too. Taking a little “Time to Plan” now can help to save yourself a lot of time later!

Thank you for stopping by Coupon Geek! I value my readers and their advice, tips and comments. Please remember that Coupon Geek is a positive, family-friendly and upbeat site when leaving your comments.

Comments

  1. Melody says

    This is a brilliant idea. I’ve been using Allrecipes weekly meal planner, which has been great for coming up with new ideas, but having a master meal list would be a huge help. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Heather H says

    I think this is a great idea! I know I spend a lot less at the store when I have my meals planned. I like the dry erase board idea, I am going to try that, Thanks.

  3. says

    I have been doing menu planning for about a year and it is a great tool. I use a calendar (it helps me look back to remember things that I stopped making). I have one in the drawer for food and one for family appoinments. I make sure that I use all the stuff in my house already and then anything that I get at the store is for next month or to specifically work with one meal like fresh produce. The great thing is that items in the fridge don’t go bad because you have written down what you are going to make to make sure things are used up. I didn’t know if it was really working until I had family in town for November and December holidays and the grocery budget was double the normal because I was trying to change the meals to suit the guests. It doesn’t seem like it would make that much difference but it allows you to stock up at low prices and use what you got!! I hope that it sticks for lots of families :)

  4. coupongeek says

    That’s awesome, Alison! It’s amazing how keeping to a plan of particular meals and having a meal plan can save so much money!

  5. coupongeek says

    The dry erase board really does help, Heather. And my husband loves seeing what’s for dinner that night. He kind of plans his lunches around it, too. Definitely a money-saver!

  6. coupongeek says

    Thanks so much, Melody! I can’t believe I didn’t think of doing it sooner. It was very helpful yesterday when I was making up my meal-plan for the rest of the month!

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