Meal planning is one of my favorite chores of the week. I must be joking, right? Not at all! I set aside an hour each week for a date with my meal planner, cookbooks, and cup of tea. This is how I make meal planning simple AND enjoyable.
Putting together your meal plan doesn’t have to be the most tedious part of the week. Before you get started, try to set some undisturbed time aside while you meal plan. My husband is so helpful with managing the house and baby but my little one’s default position seems to be my arms. Once a week my husband will take Blaise for a walk or drive so I have 1 hour of undisturbed time to plan for the following week. I make a cup of earl grey ( or lemonade depending on the season) and pull out a couple of my favorite cookbooks.
CHECK THE ADS BEFORE YOU MEAL PLAN
I try to stick to a budget of $75/week for food and toiletries. I like to shop at Aldi but have recently really enjoyed shopping at Fresh Thyme for our weekly groceries. Checking the ads gives me a framework for what meals I should include in my plan. For example, if chicken is on sale during a particular week, I’ll base most of my dinners off of that protein. We also eat a lot of veggies which can get expensive UNLESS you are smart about it and plan around the sales. I know some people who will go to 2 or 3 stores to get the best deals. When you factor in your time and gas money, I don’t think it is worth it to store hop.
CHECK YOUR PANTRY, FRIDGE, AND FREEZER
Don’t feel too bad if those Brussel sprouts get pushed to the back of the fridge and forgotten. It happens to the best of us but that is why I like to do a mental inventory of what I already have and what needs to be used up. I had some strawberries the other day that were about to go bad. Luckily, I spotted them in time, cut them up, and threw them in the freezer. Next week I plan on using those berries to make a strawberry cobbler. I also take a glance in my deep freezer to see what I have available. Jot down any meat or veggies you can include in your meal plan.
THANKS FOR PINNING!
MEAL PLAN USING YOUR COOKBOOKS
We all have our go-to meals but I like to have my cookbooks on hand for inspiration. Here are 3 of my favorite cookbooks to use when meal planning. I also pull up pinterest so I can include any recipes I’ve recently pinned. I use this meal planner and start filling in the days with meal ideas. As I add a meal, I add the ingredients I need to buy to my shopping list. My husband works 3 nights a week so I plan out 4 meals and make enough for leftovers so I don’t have to cook and wash up the dishes on days he isn’t home.
DINNER SCHEDULE EXAMPLE
Sunday – Chicken Roast with potatoes and carrots with strawberry cobbler
Monday – Pork chops and roasted brussel sprouts
Tuesday – Spaghetti and salad
Wednesday – Steak and Peppers (Instant Loss on a Budget, pg. 145)
Thursday, Friday – leftovers
Saturday – Dinner at moms
Make sure to include where to find the recipes so you can locate it easily later on. I also like to include any social engagements we have for the week. For example, date night, a party, or a family dinner.
MEAL PLAN FOR LUNCH AND BREAKFAST
I like to have a couple of breakfast options available each week. We are currently drowning in eggs. Usually I’ll plan on having eggs and toast or oatmeal available for breakfast. Sometimes I’ll make granola and use it for cereal. Plan a couple of options, add it to your meal plan, and write down any ingredients you may need to pick up.
Lunch is pretty casual at our house. I’ll come up with 3-4 ideas such as cheese quesadillas and tomato soup or chicken salad on croissants. I also add a couple of snacks to my shopping list which are also used as lunch sides.
TAILOR IT TO YOUR NEEDS
Every family is different so your needs may be completely different than mind but meal planning can be broken down into 4 steps.
- Check the sale ads.
- Take a mental inventory of what you already have on hand.
- Come up with breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas.
- Keep a running list of groceries
I also keep a list of things I need to prep on the weekend. I usually make bread for the week on Saturdays but sometimes I’ll make yogurt, granola, or chicken stock. Since things get busy during the weekdays, I also like to take some time to prep all my veggies.