How I Meal Plan
Do you meal plan? I think by now most of us know it can save a lot of decision fatigue, money and multiple grocery runs, but how can you actually implement a system that works for you? I've been menu planning since my boys were babies and today I am going to share some of my favorite tricks that help make the process easier.
1. Pick a time during the week that you can plan and shop: For me this is Sunday morning while my husband takes the boys to Sunday school. For you this could be a Thursday night. It just has to be some time where you can sit down to plan and make your shopping list. You could execute the shopping the following day or even do an online grocery pickup or delivery order to make the most of your time.
2. Get out the tools you need to plan:
Calendar: The first thing I do is look at the week ahead to figure out what will be going on as we approach dinner each day. Do we have an activity that ends at 6:30 and everyone will come home starving and exhausted? That's a crock pot day. Do we have nothing on the calendar? That may be a good day for soup that will also supply some lunches later in the week. Do we have a good hour or so between afternoon activities and dinner time? Those are great days for a sheet pan or instant pot dinner. Are you going out for dinner any days? Also, the day you shop is the best day to use fresh fish. We usually have fish Sunday nights. I use my regular weekly agenda and write down the dinners I settle on right in it.
Recipe List: One game changer I've created in the last few months is a section of my bullet journal with tested recipes my family likes. I have a page each for crock pot, sheet pan, instant pot, soups, special family dinners, meal salads, side salads, sandwiches, breakfast, smoothies and treats. In the photo above you can see my "Salad" page. I simply list our favorite salads and where I can find the recipe (a pinterest board, cookbook with page number, or website). Then when I've determined what kind of dinner I need to make for each night I scroll to that page and find something to fit the bill. There are tons of ideas for bullet journals out there, but this may be my favorite use I discovered. If you don't have one yet I am obsessed with my Leuchtturm 1917 A5 notebook because of the numbered pages/index, dotted pages, ribbon bookmarks and elastic.
Chalkboard: It is really nice for you and your family to see the dinner options. There are lots of ways to do it to fit your space and decor.
Recipes: Once you've decided what you're making you need to dig out the recipes to make a shopping list. These can be from IG, pinterest, websites and good old fashioned cookbooks. Next week I'll be doing a cookbook roundup.
3. Create a few options for breakfasts and lunches:I don't plan every day because we're happy having eggs, oatmeal or cereal for most breakfasts and sandwiches, salads or leftovers for lunches. It is nice to make a batch of healthy muffins or have a creative lunch idea for a day or two.
4. Make your shopping list: now that you have all of your recipes for the week go through and make your list. I like to use Notes in my iphone because I put it in the order I shop the store, the bread aisle is first. With iNotes, I can add items to the right spot as I go through the recipes. I definitely find that having like items grouped together greatly decreases the likelihood that I'll miss something, so it's totally worth the minimal extra effort it takes.
* If this is just all too much, you may like hearing that someone has actually done all the work listed above for you and offers it for free each Saturday. That's right, the amazing Gina at Skinnytaste has a free weekly mealplan.
** Pro tip: You can definitely plan two weeks at a time while you have everything out!