Thursday, January 7, 2016

Meal Planning for Big Families

meal planning for big families
Raising big families is tough. Feeding big families is tougher. With each kid (and as they get older) you watch your grocery bill grow as your shopping list gets longer and longer. Not to mention, cooking big meals to feed every one can be a chore.

Thankfully, you can cut your food expenses and keep all tummies happy while simplifying your life with meal planning. Meal planning for big families can be a challenge and does take a bit of time, but the end results are worth it.

As a special request from one of our blog readers, here are my easy meal planning tips to simplify your life and save money.

Meal Planning Made Easy

One question asked by the reader was if I plan all meals or just dinners. My primary focus is meal planning for dinner, which most people focus on, but I also try to plan breakfast, lunch and snacks when possible.

To make the process as organized and simple as possible, I use a print off of the month to keep track of everything. But, I'm sure there's also a handy app you could use.

To get started, here's what you need:
1. Set a daily food budget.
2. Grab some store ads and coupons.
3. Take inventory of your pantry.
4. Look at your schedule to see how many "easy meals" you're going to need.  

Making Your List

I try to go shopping every 2 weeks, which has allowed me to cut my grocery bill in half.

Use your sale ads and coupons, combined with what you already have in your pantry, to start planning some meals to stay within your daily budget.

Making Meals Stretch

I've learned to always make more when cooking to get multiple meals out of one. For example, I will make a large batch of chili and freeze half. You then have one meal for tonight and an easy meal for a busy day during the month. I also do this with pancakes and waffles when cooking Sunday breakfast. I will double what we will eat that morning, freeze the rest, and there's another morning of breakfast.

Another way I make meals stretch is with leftovers. My kids don't like leftovers and they usually got tossed so I got creative. I make something new out of the leftovers and use the estimated leftovers for a night of dinner when making my meal plan. For example, when I make tacos, I know we will have meat left over, but not enough left over for another night of tacos. So, the next day, I will use the leftover meat to make taquittos or Shepard's Pie.

Start Your Stock Pile

After you've gone shopping, if you're still within your budget, take the remaining amount to start building a stockpile. Look for 2 or 3 really good sale items, and if you have coupons for them, that's even better. Buy as much of that item as you can, then when making your meal plan for next month or the following month, you already have ingredients on-hand, saving you even more money.  When possible, continue doing this every time you go shopping.

Overtime, you'll start building a stockpile while cutting your grocery bill.

Allow Wiggle Room

I know a lot of people create their meal plans with specific meals to eat on specific days. I can't do that. Some days I don't want to eat or cook what's scheduled for that day. Just because you planned to have chicken on Tuesday doesn't mean you have to. Give yourself some wiggle room by just ensuring you have enough meals for however long you planned for.

Meal planning can be time consuming, but the few extra minutes you spend planning ahead will make a big difference in your wallet and simplifying your life

Do you meal plan for your big families? Let's hear your best meal planning tips!

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