Streamline Dinner Planning and Save Money

Streamline Dinner Planning and Save Money

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Streamline dinner planning and save money

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I have been a mother my entire adult life. That means someone has always counted on me for their dinner. This is a ton of pressure! If you have a man in your life, they also look to you with that same question on their lips. This is not just me, I watched it happen to my mother as well. The struggle is real.

This question of “What’s for dinner?”, has started fights between people that love each other and get along. I’m pretty sure it’s started at least one war somewhere. Anyway, in the spirit of being more organized, I have solved this problem in our household.

My husband and I sat down and created a system where we work together in creating a weekly menu and shopping list. This doesn’t require two people, but I believe in equal rights. Plus we both enjoy cooking and this breaks up the work. Let me tell you how to streamline your dinner planning, stay organized, and save money by eating at home.

Create a calendar

Start with a calendar. Traditional calendars are fine, but something digital enables mobility to see it on the go. We use our Google family calendar so that we both can view it. Each day we enter a recurring event at 6pm, “Dinner”.

Man holding iPad with calendar over a table

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We sit together every Saturday and discuss what will be for dinner each night through the following Friday. Keep you calendar in front of you so that you know when you have evenings with special events away from home or will be working late, etc. We take turns choosing meal plans from the things we like to eat. I usually have my recipe app open on my phone for ideas.

The current app I use on my iPhone is Mealboard. You can import recipes from a limited number of web sites to your app. You can also manually type in your own recipes. There is a calendar included if you want an all-in-one app. Select meals that you want for each day and it will populate a shopping list for you as well. This is very handy, but we love our Google apps.

Create a shopping list

Here’s how we make it work. I’ll suggest pasta and meatballs for Monday with green beans and a salad. We put it on the Google calendar just as I typed it here. Then I pull up my Google Keep app. This is where I make my shopping list. I use this because my husband and I have the list shared through Google. If he goes to the store without me and pulls up the list, he can see what I have added and check it off. This has streamlined a lot of shopping for us.

Google Keep shopping list
Google Keep Shopping List

As we put meal ideas on the calendar, we are adding ingredients to the shopping list. In the example above, we would need marinara, spaghetti noodles, Parmesan, salad, green beans, and a zucchini. I use zucchini for my pasta noodles. We check the pantry and only add the items we need. When we are done with Monday, we move on to the next day.

Go shopping, don’t forget your bags

We do our big trip to the grocery store on Saturday and a small mid-week trip on Wednesday. My husband has an aversion to frozen meat so we try to buy everything fresh. The extra trip on Wednesday is to get the second half of the week’s meat and fresh veggies if needed.

Pasta with wine for dinner

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Now to put it in action! When Monday rolls around and I’m at work, I can look at my phone calendar and see that tonight is pasta for dinner. Based on the meal, I know which one of us is cooking that night as well. This has streamlined so much for us in the hectic evenings after work.

Get cooking!

You know those hectic evenings after work. It’s already 6pm and you don’t have anything in the pantry that matches. There is always one ingredient missing! Then you fall into the take-out trap and order a pizza that is less than exciting and far from healthy. That’s $25 that could’ve bought you a few pounds of organic produce. This system will help you save money.

Organic produce in crates

Photo by Lukas Budimaier on Unsplash

We have been using this system for a few months now and it is working like a charm. Our system for organizing dinner has saved us hundreds of dollars at the restaurants we no longer go to. We have always enjoyed our own cooking and it is certainly less expensive and healthier to cook at home.

I hope you will give this organizational tip a try at your own home. Bring your family back to the table and eat together. There is nothing like good food, cooked by you.

Happy woman in a shopping cart

Photo by Laura Marques on Unsplash

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