Weekly Meal Planning Tips
One of my favorite parts of the week is meal planning. Maybe it's because I love food and cooking so much, or because I know I won't have to worry about finding something to eat the rest of the week. Whatever it is, I love it, and thought I would share how I do it!
I like to take about 20 minutes every Sunday afternoon and plan the week's meals and grocery list. Cody and I usually go grocery shopping on Monday afternoon, so Sunday works perfectly for me as far as meal planning. I know a lot of people like to fly by the seat of their pants when it comes to dinner, and we used to be the same way - finding whatever we could in the fridge or pantry 10 minutes before it was time to eat. We noticed that planning our weekly meals is easier on my food allergies (which I have a ton of), helps us eat healthier, and avoids the little arguments we usually get into over frustration of not being able to find anything.
I grab my favorite cookbooks and my meal planning notebook (stay organized!) and get to work! I lay out each day of the week with enough space for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Cody doesn't eat breakfast (shame on him!) and packs a sandwich for lunch during the week. So, I know right away that breakfast and lunch up until Saturday are only for me. I schedule breakfasts first and leave lunches until the end, so I can use all the left overs I can. This makes it easier on me by not having to do very much cooking in the middle of the day, saves money, and helps not waste food!
For dinners, I go through my cookbooks and find meals that I know we both like and that I can have (I like to add a little sticky to those pages to make it easier the next time)! I try to stick to 2 (3 max) different meats per week. Since it is just the two of us, and we buy organic/free range meat, I don't like to take the chance that we will have a ton of expensive meat that we don't eat. Occasionally in the middle of the week, we will deter from our menu and treat ourselves to a meal out, and that could throw off the entire system if we had too much meat that we couldn't use for other things in the week.
Basically, I just take random dinners that we like and place them on the various days. I also put the page number next to the meal for easy reference while cooking. Then, I take the meal from the night before and either have the same thing for lunch the next day, or I use the basic ingredients of that meal to make something else! So, if we have tacos on Tuesday night, I might have a taco salad for lunch on Wednesday (or leftover tacos).
After I have the entire week filled out, I flip the page over and start making a list of all the ingredients I will need that week. The trick is to list how many/much of each item you will need right away, that way you aren't wandering around the grocery store guessing you'll need 1 can of tomato sauce when you will really need 3 (then you'll have to go back later in the week, ugh!).
Once you do this a few weeks in a row, it will become routine, and you'll be able to do it in no time at all!
Do you plan your weekly meals and grocery list? What tips do you have? Let's chat in the comments below!