Hello and good morning! Time for another Meal Planning 101 post! See my first post in the series here.
How I Plan For The Week
To be honest, I don’t really have a rhythm of how I plan for a week. Right now, I plan our meals for the week on the Thursday before, because I go grocery shopping on Fridays. I used to go shopping on Saturdays, but went on a Friday one time on a whim and loved that I flew through the store in no time and I didn’t have to do it the next day. With that being said, I’m sure I won’t always go on Fridays (especially once it gets warmer out) but for now that’s what works for us.
I always look at the next week and see what we have going on first. Say for instance, if Ryan is going to be out of town for work, I won’t be making an elaborate meal that takes 2 hours because it’s just me and I’d rather make a more elaborate meal when there are two of us (I swear if I lived by myself I would not cook as much as I do…I just like cooking for others!).
Or if I know we have Bible study that week, I will have leftovers on the schedule for that day since I know we won’t have a ton of time at home.
Once that is figured out, I consult the cabinets, freezers and fridge to see what we have. I keep a pretty good tab on what we currently have, so most of the time I can do this off the top of my head, but if you are newer to this, I would suggest consulting what you already have before making a meal plan.
Tip #1: Set realistic meals for the time that you have. If you know you don’t get home until 8pm on Monday’s, don’t plan to make a lasagna that takes 2 hours to make & cook (unless if it’s leftovers, of course!). I made this mistake a few times before realizing I don’t need to cook something time consuming every night of the week.
Making the grocery list
When choosing meals, they come from one of three areas.
1. Consult my Pinterest boards. Yes, I am actually one of those people who just doesn’t pin things and forget them. I actually try things I pin on my Pinterest board. When I’m reading blogs on Google reader, I’ll star the ones I like and will eventually pin them on Pinterest to try later on. It’s the best way for me to keep all of the recipes I want to try in one place.
2. “Clean out the cabinets.” These types of meals are used for times when I want to spend less money at the grocery store. I try to use up the ingredients we already have on hand to make room for more fun ingredients in the future. Helps save money for sure!
3. My brain. When I first started cooking, I could not come up with recipes off the top of my head to save my life. I was a strict “follow the recipe or else!” cooker and that was fine with me. Now that I cook more often, I have more of an understanding of what ingredients go together and what do not. That being said, there have been a few ideas that I thought would be good in my head and they turned out terrible, so it’s all a part of the adventure.
Once I have the meals figured out, I started making the grocery list. I used to be a lover of the old fashioned pen and paper but recently I’ve started using the iPhone app, GroceryIQ. The main reason I use this is because both Ryan and I can update it whenever we need to, so he may think of something he wants and can easily add it there for me to see once I go grocery shopping.
I first list any staples we need (i.e. bread, eggs, milk, etc) and then I list all of the ingredients we need for the recipes I’ve selected. I know some people make meals off of what is on sale, but I personally don’t care to take the time to do that. Most of what is on sale is either A) meat or B) junky food. We try to buy organic and/or local meat (we do not do this all of the time, though I aspire to one day do so) so we wouldn’t buy what meat is on sale anyways. And we don’t need junky food so I don’t bother with looking at the sales ads.
For fruits and vegetables, I typically pick up 2-3 different fruits and 4-5 different vegetables (depending on how the recipes incorporate vegetables). I typically wait until I get to the grocery store to pick those out to see what looks the best (and to see what is on sale).
Tip #2: Make sure you know what you already have before going to the grocery store, you don’t want to double up on purchases!
That about cover it!
Question: How do you plan out meals for the week? Or do you plan your meals at all?