How (and why) to Start Meal Planning // A Guest Post

Today this month's

featured sponsor

, Jenna from

A Savory Feast,

 has an awesome post for Little City Adventures readers on meal planning. She has some great tips so be sure to check out the post and then head over to her blog for some yummy recipes to add to next week's meal plan!

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There has been a lot of talk going around on Pinterest and various food blogs about meal planning. I started meal planning years ago when I first moved out on my own and started cooking for myself every night. Since then, my process has evolved and I've gotten a lot better at it. Today, I'm going to share how (and why!) you can start meal planning. First of all, lets focus on the "why." The number one advantage of meal planning is saving time and money! Instead of going to the grocery store almost every day, you only have to go once a week or less. This means less impulse purchases and less gas to drive to the store. Another big advantage of meal planning is that it helps you eat better! I've found that when my kitchen is stocked with healthy foods, I'm more likely to cook with them, and less likely to eat out.

Let's get started!

Get organized!

The first thing I did when I started meal planning was put together a binder to keep myself organized. In this binder I kept my list of options (we'll talk about that next), my meal plan for the week, and my shopping list.

Make a list.

Start by making a list of the meals you like to make. For me, this is an ever-growing list! I also like to have a list of meals I want to try soon. Having a list of meals that you and your family enjoy is key! It's hard for me to just sit down and try to think of what to make. When I have list of options, it makes planning so much easier.

Set a schedule.

If possible, have a set day each week (or every other week, or once a month) that you will sit down and put together a meal plan. During this time, you will think about the week ahead of you and determine how many nights you will cook dinner.

Shop the sales.

I'm not big on couponing. I think they are great, but I don't like to take the time to clip them and I never remember to use them. Instead, I focus on getting items on sale. I like to have the weekly flyers for my favorite grocery stores in front of me when I plan out meals. If pork chops are on sale, I plan to make a meal with them that week.

Plan a bigger "stocking" trip once a month.

This saves me a lot of money! I like to have one shopping trip a month where I stock up on non-perishables like spices, canned goods, and other items I use often. By doing this, you can focus more on buying meat and vegetables during your other shopping trips.

Do you meal plan? Why or why not? What are some of your tips that help you stay organized and on track?