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:

Main Meals
Side Dishes

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!