My new apartment’s location makes it easy for both Jordan and I to eat lunch at home and I cook dinner for us most nights as well. Since we have started eating home more than we ever have before, I started meal planning!
We have also started budgeting. Before we get married next year, we have a list of books that we want to read together. At the top of the list is Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover“. I’ll go into more detail about budgeting after a few more paychecks, but so far it’s been pretty eye opening and surprisingly, fun.
Sunday is my grocery shopping day. I usually end up making a few more runs to the store during the week because we ran out of creamer or I forgot an important ingredient to a recipe, but I try to do the bulk of my shopping at one time. On Sundays I know Jordan is available to help carry groceries from the car. Juggling market bags can be tricky alone.
Here are some tricks I’ve learned that make my meal planning and grocery trips successful.
1. Make a list
I know this is grocery shopping 101. But after you’ve made a certain dish 20+ times and you have the recipe memorized, it’s easy to not write down every ingredient. Do it anyway. Last week, I forgot to buy breadcrumbs for a recipe with only 4 ingredients. Since I am trying to take one trip a week, I am buying ingredients for several recipes at a time. Write everything down because when you’re going through a list in your head, you may forget breadcrumbs.
2. Bring your own bags
Not only will you be able to carry more in each bag, which is helpful when you live in an apartment and need to take everything in one trip, but it’s better for the environment. It may inspire the lady behind you in line to bring her own on her next trip.
Plus, there are some really cute market bags…
3. Double dip ingredients
I try to make recipes with overlapping ingredients. Jordan and I don’t particularly like eating leftovers and since I am only cooking for two, I usually have extra portions of ingredients (you can’t buy half an onion). The ingredients that are most important to overlap are the produce and the meat (because they’ll spoil). I cook with a lot of citrus flavors so I always try to keep fresh lemons and limes, I also keep simple ingredients to make a delicious lemon tea (recipe here) in case the lemons start to look a little… ripe. I try to plan at least three meals during the week with the same meat. This allows me to save money and buy in bulk. If I know that one recipe that I’m making calls for fresh produce (like onions) then I’ll work onions into another meal, even if it’s just on the salad.
4. Plan for nights out
I usually only plan 4 dinners a week. We eat with Jordan’s family at his grandmother’s house on Sunday nights, our friends want to grab beers and wings at least one night a week, and Jordan and I try to go on one date a week.
5. Lunch doesn’t have to be leftovers
Don’t make lunch an after thought. Make tacos! Stock up on frozen pizzas (Jordan’s favorite)! Sometimes I’ll cook extra chicken at night and shred it for chicken salad the next day. Lunch is a great way to repurpose ingredients (like that onion I was talking about earlier) so they don’t go to waste.
Do you have any meal planning tips? I’d love to hear them.