3 Ways to Jump-start your Meal Planning

Let’s round out the week with one more meal planning post! I shared the steps I use when planning my meals and also various meal planning resources to hopefully help inspire you to find a system that works for you. If you’re still feeling daunted by the prospect of planning out a whole week of meals, know that once you find a system that works for you it really does get easier! And don’t be afraid to start small!

I have found that planning my meals ahead of time has saved me from many a last minute trip to the grocery store. Doesn’t that prepared food at the deli counter always look better when you’re standing there with a growling stomach?

Here are 3 simple ideas to help you get into the meal planning groove. Take the organizing quiz and then pick the tip that fits your style.

 

Clutter Bug

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by a visit to your local grocery store here is a simple 10 ingredient shopping list from Stone Soup which includes all the items and recipes for a full week of meals.

Once you have your usual grocery store staples try this planning tip.  Each night while cleaning up from dinner, decide what you are going to have for dinner for the next night. Write it on a post-it and place it on the fridge (my grandma used to do this). That is it! You have planned tomorrow’s meal.

On a night when you can’t quite decide, but you know you have the ingredients on hand for a few different options, write down both possible meals for the next night. You’ll be ahead of the game and if you do that every night you will have a meal plan that works. You can keep a list of meals you eat throughout the week and use it as a reference for the next time you’re feeling stuck. Continue to plan 1-2 days in advance or when you feel ready, expand into writing down a week’s worth of meals.

 

Mess Manager

Using your calendar and small post-its, write out as many different meals as you can think of post-its. Two weeks or 14 meals is ideal. Stay with me here, you will only do this once. Place the post-its on your calendar and you’ve got your meal plan. When you finish each meal, move the post-it on your calendar to a spot without a planned meal.

If you don’t have small post its don’t hesitate to cut down larger ones to fit.

 

Practically Professional

If you feel comfortable creating meal plans but want to add some variety, try creating menu cards or a recipe binder based on the seasons.

Kristina from Sweetfern Handmade has constructed her meal planning process to incorporate the changing of the seasons while still keeping the overall planning simple. In sunny, southern California I haven’t needed to switch out too many recipes to match the season, but I do love this idea. I certainly have some favorites that only come out at certain times of the year, such as butternut squash soup or apple pie.

Kristina shared her system:

“At our house, I’ve gone meal planning crazy. I’ve been making seasonal “meal cards,” each with five meals on them. Each season has eight cards (forty meals) and on Sunday evenings I sit down with sale fliers and coupons and a list of what’s on hand, and I choose the week’s card. Am I crazily organized or just plain crazy? I don’t know. I do know this saves us lots of time, AND that having forty meals per season has just enough variety, and just enough daily familiarity, that we get practiced at making our favorites without getting bored.”

If you are loving the idea of organizing your menu on cards, Wide Open Spaces has a beautiful collection of recipe cards from Esty shops as well as some free downloadables.For a little extra help planning your seasonal menus, Living Richly on Budget complied a list of what goes on sale each month.

Have you found a system that works for you?

post it image | binder image

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Comments

  1. SpaceforLiving says:

    Yep, it is all about finding something that works for you. Let usknow how it goes.

  2. I love the post it note idea. I'm going to have to give this a try. I hate meal planning, so love anything that can make it easier.

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