A weekly column celebrating the neat freak in all of us.
I’ve never been exceptional at meal planning. Just when I think I have a good system in place, something throws off my routine and I’m out of the zone! There are SEVERAL different ways to meal plan, but I’ve been eying this technique from my friend Helen Jane (aka my meal planning guru) and thought I’d give it a go. I like that it’s pretty simple and makes a BIG impact! The trick is…sticking with it! But we’ll talk about that later.
STEP 1: Compile a list of all of your tried & true meals. Bonus points for healthy/easy meals that you can use as leftovers for a new meal the following day!
Get the input of your family to see what they’re craving during the week. This can be dangerous.
STEP 2: Survey your fridge & freezer. See what’s in there! Figure out what day you will grocery shop for the week and meal plan around that.
Go through the pantry/cupboards to see what you have in there too. I keep a post-it notepad on the wall of my pantry so I can write down what I need for groceries the next time I go shopping. It’s handy!
The pantry is where I find all my “filler” for weeknight meals. Pasta, rice, spices, canned goods, soups etc. It’s nice to see what you can use as a base for your dinners or as a meal accessories.
STEP 3: Get our your planning sheet!
Create a template on your computer of all of the days of the week. I just used Microsoft Word and one of my favorite fonts to make it look cool. You could totally write it out by hand…I just feel like having a template makes it more legit. It helps get me in the organizing zone.
STEP 5: MEAL PLAN!
WHAT TO THINK OF WHILE MEAL PLANNING:
-What events are happening this week? Will you be out for dinner?
-What fruits & vegetables needs to be used ASAP?
-What day of the week do you go grocery shopping?
-Which days of the week will you NEED to make an easy meal? Mondays are hard.
-Which days of the week do you have more time to enjoy cooking? Sundays are fun!
-What do you already have in your fridge/freezer to access?
-How long can items last in the fridge to use for another recipe?
-How can you use leftovers for your next meal?
When I was planning out my grocery shopping for this particular week, I wanted to use a bunch of things I already had in our freezer. I highlighted everything that needed to be defrosted in pink. It lets me know what I need to do for the next day.
Now make your grocery shopping list (another post entirely!) and get to shopping.
I followed this particular meal plan for a week.
How did it go??!
Not too bad! I still could use some work.
-It’s going to take a lot of practice! The activity of meal planning isn’t necessarily easy and it requires some time. I need to carve out a good half hour to figure out meals/grocery planning each week. Last week was super busy and I wasn’t home much for dinner so I didn’t really meal plan. I could see how much my life was affected by not having a meal plan!
-If I don’t make something I intend to make on the night I intended to make it, it’s OK. The world won’t end.
Life is busy and things come up, so I can’t stress out if things don’t go according to planned. If I end up making something else on a different night, who cares! As long as I’m not wasting food, that’s all that matters.
-Having an outline of the week is WAAAAAY better than not having an outline.
Do you meal plan? Do you have any tips or tricks? Let’s discuss!