A few weeks ago, I posted about why I meal plan and today, I'm going to be sharing how I go about meal planning. I know I said I would post this earlier, but it has been a crazy couple of days. Since it's the beginning of the month, I thought I should get to it.
The process of meal planning itself is a pretty easy one. I plan for the entire month. It used to take up to two hours, but now that I'm better at it, it goes by much quicker - usually no longer than an hour.
1) Check the Fridge, Freezer & Cupboards
I do this first because I can then determine what needs to be and can be used. I also do not wish to buy duplicates unnecessarily, so this step usually eliminates that. I also check on my staples to see if they need refilling.
2) Gather My Recipes
This is my favourite part! I love going through the recipes I love and the ones I haven't tried. In addition to checking my repertoire, I open my Pinterest boards and my Pocket feed to see what recipes have interested me, and what I might be determined enough to knock off the "try list." Note: Our breakfasts are usually pretty standard because of work schedules, so we usually have fruit and whole grain cereal or bread. I don't bother planning for that because they're staples for us. A couple of times a month, we will have a free morning in which we can be a bit more adventurous though!
3) Get Out the Calendar
I print out a blank monthly calendar to place my meals on. Eventually I want to make and use a reusable one. First, I block off the days where I don't need to worry about preparing food (days we're out of town or eating out, etc.). Next I schedule any grocery shopping trips (usually two). This helps me determine what ingredients I need to last longer. By the way, we personally only eat twice a day (one large breakfast, and an early supper/late lunch). If we are dying of hunger, we'll have a light snack later on.
4) Group Together Meals
I don't necessarily group meals that have overlapping ingredients if I don't plan on making enough to have leftovers. Sometimes we do though, and a lot of ingredients are versatile anyway. Making sure each meal for the day adds up to the recommended amounts of nutrients (more on that in the future!), I start putting them on the calendar.
5) Make a Shopping List
Being sure I double check the things I already have, I make a list! It's easy. I write down every thing I'll need for each meal I'm preparing and take a poll, so to say. This way, I can be sure I'm getting enough of a certain ingredient. Note: I usually make two shopping lists. One for each shopping trip I need to take. This also helps me make sure that produce will last long enough, etc. Plus, I don't have to take extra time later on to make a completely new list. I can add to it if I run out of a staple or two during the week.
Note: I group my list into sections according to what store I will be visiting. This way, I'm not jumping between sections and wasting time.
The one thing I really like about this system is that it's flexible. If I decide I don't want a certain meal one day, or if something comes up where we don't need to cook after all, it's easy to change it up and move it. It's basically just for my sanity.
What do you think? Easy enough to try yourself?
Do you use another method? Comment below- I'd love to hear about it. I'm off to meal plan for March now - a few days late... I'm a little behind in life this days :)