5 Easy steps to making your own Meal Planner-
How to start planning meals.
1) Make a list of types of food your family enjoys...i.e. Chicken dishes, Beef dishes, Fish dishes, Vegetarian...etc... The Chicken list may include Chicken Kiev, Chicken enchiladas, roasted chicken and rosemary-onion potatoes. Keep the list growing on paper in a 1/2" three-ringed binder, keep on shelf with cookbooks, preferrably in the Kitchen.
2) Look in the mailer Sale-flyers or online for a sale flyer to your local grocery store. The cover page is going to have the best deals. If you need to save money and don't mind going to several stores, shop each store's cover page sale items and don't buy anything else in that store. Stores market the cover page as a way to draw people into the store hoping they'll buy more than what's on sale. The store often loses money on the cover sales or breaks even. Good to keep in mind. Once you have found items on sale, meat or produce...then you can look at your tried and true recipe list of what your family likes and see what other ingredients are needed for that dish, taking in account whether you may have some of those ing. already on hand. *note* any stores sales that can be matched with a store coupon plus a manufacturers coupon saves a lot of money. :)( I just started couponing June of '10)
3) While reviewing your recipes, write on a scratch piece of paper a grocery list of ingredients you need for your dinners. After, include items for breakfast, lunch, and snack foods you can buy at the store too. Snacks are easy in our house, fresh produce; orange, apple, carrot, celery. We also eat, nuts and dried fruit, and occasionally I'll bake something like muffins or *gulp* brownies...yes, we are bad sometimes. For your scratch paper, a "green" way to recycle is by keeping your junk mail envelopes and using them as scratch paper, they work really well for keeping coupons inside too!!!
4) Plug 7 dinner recipe titles in your meal planner on your daily schedule(see cleaning house page). One dinner for each night of the week.
5) Be diligent about keeping the kitchen clean, because no one wants to cook in a messy, cluttered kitchen. I clean as I cook. There are moments while cooking you have to wait, during that time I empty the dish washer, pick up around the Kitchen table, etc. I also fill one side of my sink with soapy water and throw in measuring cups, spoons, anything dirty as I'm cooking, it's so easy when it comes time to rinse and put in the dishwasher. I didn't have a dishwasher for 5 1/2 years, so washing by hand is hard, but doesn't have to be that bad. It can actually be nicer, if you immediately dry the dishes and put them away.
*Also make sure you look at your meal plan a night or 2 before so you can soak beans or thaw meat.*