Growing up I always asked my mom early in the day or sometimes the night before what was for dinner the next day. Her response was almost always I don’t know. Sometimes I think she would get frustrated with me asking all the time and thinking that my mind revolved around food, but really it was just the need to feel prepared. We would regularly make Kroger runs mid-afternoon to get stuff for dinner that night. This always frustrated me (sorry mom!), but as a child I had no control over it. In high school I started cooking more and would do some of the grocery shopping and attempt to plan ahead when possible.
Fast-forward to 2013 and I was about to be a wife, which meant I would then be responsible for the planning, grocery shopping, and cooking of all of our meals. I meal planned ahead of time for our honeymoon. Yes, I am that obsessed with planning ahead. That was just the beginning of my meal planning habits. During that first summer we were living with husband’s dad until we could move to Beckley. We worked out an agreement that I was still responsible for meal planning and cooking dinner. Now of course, I only cook for Matt and I yet meal planning continues to be a part of our daily lives.
I want to share with you how I meal plan, why I meal plan, and tips for meal planning! I know that this revolution has changed my life and I truly hope at least something that I share with you can help you meal plan too!
How I Meal Plan
1.Brainstorming – Typically every Saturday I start asking Husband what he would like to eat the next week. I start browsing Pinterest, reading blogs and just getting a general feel for what the next week might look like meal wise. I consider what we ate this past week, and what leftovers we have. Another thing that I check consistently every week is the weather to see what type of food we might be in the mood for each day. For instance, if it’s going to be in the 90’s I will plan for something light and cool to refresh us, and if we are going to have a cooler rainy day I will try to squeeze in some summer soup!
**Another important thing that I am working on consulting in my brainstorming is the sale ads. Once Sunday hits I try to at least consider what is on sale for the week. This is a definite work in progress though!**
2.Finalize Choices – On Sunday evening or Monday morning I sit down and start working on my Menu Plan Monday blog post and begin finalizing my choices for the week. I make sure I have a full meal, sometimes needing to come up with side dishes, or salads depending on the meal. Once I finalize my choices I also go and write down the menu on our menu board so husband will know what we are eating and when. Also so I can remind myself of any prep work that needs to be done throughout the day with each meal.
3.Grocery List – Once my choices have been made I start working on my grocery list. I either type it up into a template I have saved on my computer, or sit down with my little notebook and start writing the list. I always put the menu for the week at the top so that I can check my purchases and make sure I haven’t forgotten anything. My list is also organized into sections in the order that I go through the store. This has helped immensely in not forgetting things and having to go around the store a million times. In addition to the items for the meals, I buy lunch foods for days that there won’t be left overs. Husband works most days and they supply him lunch, so honestly I am horrible at planning something. I typically end up eating soup, salad, pizza bread, or something else. It’s definitely not the best meal of the day. I also check our breakfast stock to see if we need more (granola bars, fruit, oatmeal, pancake mix, eggs, etc
4.Shopping – Husband and I typically go together on Monday afternoons, although this will change with his schedule in the fall and once I get a job. I like to go on Sunday or Monday though. I work my way through the store trying to get the best deals on groceries, and I will sometimes go to other stores or markets (meat or farmers) to get some things.
My meal planning process is super simple and one that works for us. Some people go about it differently, and the important thing is that it works for you! Currently we shop a week at a time, but I would love to try a month at a time at some point. No system fits every person and it’s important to figure what is best for you and your family.