Diving into meal planning during the summer months is a great time to get started. With the light and easy nature of the foods we choose, plus tons of grilling, you can start to develop a habit that you can carry into the fall. This post is the second of a multi part series on meal planning. Part one focused on the benefits of having a meal planning routine. You can read part one here.
Once you decide that meal planning is something you want to try, a quick internet search will yield thousands of meal planning strategies, apps, templates, and how-to videos. But what works for one person may not be the right way for you, so finding a strategy that works for you is key. If it is easy and intuitive you are more likely to do it. Here are some things to consider:
Are you planning just dinners, dinners and lunches, or all meals and snacks?
There are some people that thrive on planning out every meal. In our house that wouldn’t necessarily work because of schedules, food preferences, and level of effort that we each are willing to put into breakfast. For lunches I just have a variety of foods on hand in order for each to make their own decisions and their own lunches – lunch meats, peanut butter, tuna, etc. However, your situation is just that, your situation, so if you have littles at home then planning all meals may be more helpful for you. You do you!
How Often Do You Want to Shop?
If you don’t mind shopping once a week, then weekly meal planning is great. I like to do a big shopping trip about once a month and then weekly get any fresh ingredients or perishables. How often you want or need to go to the grocery store will have an impact on your planning. Again, we are trying to make less work for ourselves, not more.
Think About Your Schedule and Your Budget
If you have a good view of your schedule and events that are planned, then it is easier to do longer meal plans. If your schedule is consistently changing or unpredictable, the shorter may be the better option. You can also consider the financial part of it – for example, if you shop according to your pay schedule then you may want a meal plan that spreads from paycheck to paycheck.
Tracking Your Meal Plan
Once you decide on the longevity of your plan, the next step is to figure out your format for tracking it. Apps like Cozi, the Family Organizer allow you to catalog your recipes and plan three meals and a snack for each day. It also has the functionality to share with the rest of the family so that everyone is on the same page.
My go-to is creating a calendar in my bullet journal. This allows me to not only plan at my desk, but I can access it anytime while I am working. On a weekly basis I write out the plan on a Post-it calendar sticky and put it on the refrigerator. You can head over to my resources page and see two that I like.
Other options are white boards, chalkboards, and wall calendars. Whatever option you go with, your goal is to have your plan where it can be easily accessed, and shared with the family.
This is the second of a multi part series on meal planning. Please be sure to follow me so that you get notified when new content is posted. Up next, some tips and tricks for making meal planning work for you.