What Is Meal Planning?
Meal planning is simply deciding what you will eat before the time to prepare it.
Why Plan Meals?
Too many families these days don’t eat together. With our hectic schedules, we don’t take the time to sit down and reconnect with each other. As a consequence, children get less attention from their parents, and often times don’t have the models for appropriate table manners.
And if you don’t have a family, you might not take the time to eat healthily. After all, a bowl of cereal is much more convenient! (Ask me, I know!)
How To Plan Meals
- Decide how long you want to plan for. Most people do a week, I do 14 days. However, even a few days can get you started!
- Look at your calendar to find out if there are any meals you will be out for during this period. Note down the number.
- Subtract the number of meals you have plans for for the number of meals in the planning period to figure out how many you will need to plan for.
- Lay out that number of stickies. Note on them schedule items that might affect dinner plans (see sample file here)
- Pick recipes to eat for each meal. Include your veggies!
- Make a shopping list from the recipes.
- Go shopping, and freeze appropriately upon return.
- Every morning, check what is on the schedule for that night.
That’s it! Here is a real example of my planning:
A Real Life Example
- I plan for 14 meals.
- I see that for the planning period, my husband and I will be out of town for two dinners. I make a note to get kid-friendly food for my mother-in-law to prepare for my daughter during this time.
- I must plan for (14-2) 12 dinners. Since I cook once for two meals, this means I need (14-2)/2 = 6 meals.
- I lay out my stickies on my planning sheet. I see that on both Mondays I have to take my daughter to piano, so that means the meal has to be something my husband can prepare. Plus he has a board meeting on that first Thursday, so dinner will have to be ready early.
- I used to use Saving Dinner the Low-Carb Way: Healthy Menus, Recipes, and the Shopping Lists That Will Keep the Whole Family at the Dinner Table (aff). Each week has 6 recipes that can be adjusted.
However, I find that I get unmotivated using these menus. I prefer to spend time with my cookbooks and pick out easy meals where I cook on weekends and use leftovers the rest of the week.
I write out each of the meals, along with the recommended side dishes, on stickies and put them on my form.
- If I’m using Saving Dinner, I pull a copy of the shopping list from the Saving Dinner website, and add my lunch and breakfast items. Otherwise I make up my list.
- I send the list to my shopper, and she delivers the groceries. I put the chicken and beef in the freezer, keeping out the pork and fake crab, which will be used right away.