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New Year, New You: Meal Planning

My life is crazy. I’m know I’m not the only military spouse who thinks this way, though. Between trying to keep up with the never-ending changes in schedules (mine, my daughter’s, and my husband’s) I have found that the only way to keep my sanity is to stay organized. And I don’t just mean having baskets and bins around the house to contain things, although I’m sure Target (a.k.a. The Happiest Place on Earth) appreciates my obsession with buying them. I mean that I organize my life. Every…single…day is planned from my daily chores, to my workouts, to our meals.

One thing I have been doing for years to help me and my family stay organized is meal planning. I know many spouses do this, but it seriously has been a saving grace for me in so many ways. It alleviates the stress of what to make for dinner each night. It helps me to keep my grocery budget to a minimum. But most of all it helps us to try new things (thanks, Pinterest!) and make healthy choices for our meals.

Photo Credit: Google Images
Photo Credit: Google Images

Every week I sit down with my iPad and search Pinterest for new recipes. I also look on a few websites such as This Week for Dinner or recipes.com and look to see if there are any yummy meals I want to try. Then I venture on over to my computer, recipes in hand, and start making my grocery list.

This is where my anal-retentiveness comes in- I don’t simply write down all the things I need. Nope. I break them down into categories. Those categories are listed according to the way I walk through the grocery store. And all of this is on a Word document, so I can save it for next year (i.e., January- Week 3). I also list our meals at the bottom of my grocery list so I know what I’m making each day.

My ubber-organized grocery list is a savior when going through the commissary. With a toddler, who has learned the word “snack” and how to throw those super embarrassing temper tantrums where the other moms and retired veterans look at you and judge. Silently judge. But I digress. In other words, I only have so much time to get through the store. With my list in hand I’m like Jeff Gordon rounding the corners of each aisle. I get what I need, no dilly-dallying and usually under budget since I’m not perusing each row thinking, “I totally need 6 boxes of this double chocolate fudge brownie mix. It’s on SALE!”

So in an effort to spread the joy of meal planning, I want to share with you my meal planning and grocery list guide. You can edit it to fit your family’s needs (e.g., change the headers to categories that work for you) and save it to your own computer so you can use it down the road. I hope it helps some of you keep (or start) your New Year resolutions of staying healthy and saving money. Isn’t that everyone’s resolution every year anyways?

View the meal planning document: HUNMealPlanning.

If you meal plan, leave your tips and/or any websites you use below. Happy eating!

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