About this time last year, my sisters and I decided we would all meal plan together. We were super excited, traded recipes, called each other when things wrong, way wrong (hello, Moroccan lettuce wraps) and shared a weekly grocery list too. For a while there, we were rocking and rolling as they say. Then April rolled around and my nephew started having some major asthma and allergy issues which all but forced my sister and her family to eat completely different than the rest of us.
It only took a few trips to the grocery store…
“What do you want?”
“I don’t know. What do you want?”
…for me to realize going without a meal plan was not going to be an option. Talk about a total time waster. Thankfully, we came up with a solution that so simple any family can use this meal planning system no matter what their dietary needs. Meal planning for the busy girl (or busy family) in just a few easy steps, here we go…
The first step is deciding how you want to plan your meals. You can choose by the week, month or year.
Next assign each day of the week a different food group or category. For example:
Monday – Chicken
Tuesday – Ethnic
Wednesday – Salad
Thursday – Fish or Shrimp
Friday – Soup, Chowder or Chili
Saturday – Dinner Out
Sunday – Southern Favorites or Try Something New
Then start filling out your weekly or monthly meal plan based on your tried and true recipes. These will be menu items you currently make like family favorites or meals that are quick and easy. Most everyone (or so I’m told) has a repertoire of at least 20 meals that can make without even using a recipe (I’m working on it, Mom).
Fill in any holes with a new recipes or a meal you’ve been wanting to try. This may be hard for picky eaters. I’m already a little bit worried about Sundays to be honest because I’m one of those people but it’s always a good thing to try new experiences and break out of our comfort zone, right?
Remember to check your calendar for upcoming dates like celebrating birthdays, anniversaries or fun food holidays like Fat Tuesday or Super Bowl Sunday so you can make the menu special for that day. Get your family involved by asking them what they like to eat. Yes, they may say mac and cheese one night and hot dogs another but that will be one less meal you have to plan. Besides, we had lobster mac and cheese as part of our New Year’s dinner and it was good.
Keep in mind if you have say Chef’s Salad already planned on Wednesday but you have a really crazy day and decide you decide pick something up on the way home, place whatever meal it was in this case Chef Salad on next week or month’s list and you’ll already be ahead!
Once you have all of the days of the week/month filled out, make a grocery list. This is also a great time to consider what you’re having for breakfast each morning or what supplies you’ll need for packing lunches and snacks.
Then check the list to see what you already have in the pantry, spice drawer, refrigerator or freezer so you’re not buying multiples of anything at the farmer’s market or grocery store. Likewise, you want to check to make sure you have enough ingredients to make the meal. There’s nothing more frustrating than needing 6 eggs to make a pound cake and realizing you only have 4.
Super simple right? I usually take one day a week to review my meal plan and grocery list. Most of the time it’s Sunday afternoons but you guys can pick whichever day is best for you. If you’re looking for a Meal Planning Kit, this one from Amy J Delightful Designs is super cute and reasonably priced too.
You guys, for real, 2017 is going to be our best year yet! We’re making small changes now that are going to add up to a big, happy, organized year which makes me so excited for us.