Meal Planning - How I do It | The Life of K: Meal Planning - How I do It

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Meal Planning - How I do It

Meal planning is something that I've always wanted to do but even when I'm super motivated, it usually lasts about a week and then I get side tracked. But since the beginning of the year, when I switched over from "on mat leave" to "domestic engineer", I've been taking certain things a little more seriously. Things like keeping house. I'm not even kidding.

That means we've been planning our meals since the first week of January and I have to say that it's going really well. It makes getting dinner on the table at 6pm possible and actually sometimes easy, saves us money on groceries and cuts back on the amount of food that goes to waste. It's neat seeing our fridge super full after getting groceries and how empty it gets by the end of the week.

After the last 6 weeks of meal planning, the only thing we're going to change is start planning 6 meals a week instead of just 5 and possibly start thinking about lunches too.

So, this is how we do it: we sit down once a week and write down 5 dinner ideas. And I mean I use a pen and write them down on paper. At the same time I write out a grocery list, again, on paper. Sounds so simple when I type it out and it is actually. Why did it take me so long to do it?

I write my grocery list out in the order of things in the store. We only go to one store and it isn't big so this isn't hard. We tend to get groceries on the weekend and sometimes even go together the four of us like this past Saturday.

We add in a monthly trip to Costco that J does on a weeknight after the kids have gone to bed. We get things like toilet paper and diapers there, but sometimes things like meat and strawberries. After grocery day our fridge and cupboards are bursting with food but since we have a plan we use up all the fresh food, meal by meal, and a lot of the non-perishables.

Being so organized, because that's what meal planning really is, is opening up a world of cooking for us. I'm able to research recipes and try out different ways of cooking things. We can build in restrictions, like how every Friday, dinner has to be something J can get on the table by himself so I can spend an hour at the yoga studio. Frying up meat or chopping a bunch of veggies isn't easy to do while wrangling two kids by yourself. Normally that day we stick to a slow cooker meal or something that can be put in the oven and taken out an hour later.

I have to say, planning our meals has been a game changer. I hope we can continue with it and even expand to plan lunches too. I'm not above giving the kids kraft dinner and hotdogs but I don't like eating either so planning lunches will be a nice change. A little more organization in my life.

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