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I have been an avid meal planner for years, so many years that I’ve tweaked this sheet time after time to get it to work with our families meal schedule. It has saved us so much money in spoiled food, shaved time off of guessing ‘what’s for supper’ and saved us from grabbing for the junk because we aren’t sure what to eat.
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Every Sunday I sit down with my cup of coffee and plan our meals for the week ahead, it’s almost become a ritual for me. I begin by adding the dates next to the days of the week at the top (I actually hang onto the weekly sheets for 6 months incase I am stumped on what to feed everyone). Then I look at our family calendar I keep in my office, I add all the activities for our family members onto the sheet in the grey ‘activities’ area (i.e.: Ace-Art at 5:30 or Cory-coach basketball or if I have a photoshoot). Marking the activities is where I start from so I can see if we are going to have a rushed or sit down meal and plan accordingly.
Then I head to the freezer and do a check of #1 what proteins I have frozen and #2 what freezer meals I have on-hand. I will usually fill in one of the freezer meals on a day we have Scarlett’s dance and then choose a crock pot meat I can make another night that’s busy. Then I fill in the rest of the suppers for the week. I will sometimes cook enough protein to last for a second supper, I don’t server the same supper two nights in a row though, my husband’s pet peeve is having the same meal twice in a two week period. Mostly every supper in our house consists of a protein + vegetable + carb.
If I find I’m stuck on what to make, I’ll put on episodes of The Pioneer Woman I have saved on my pvr or whip out the latest magazine I’ve been looking at, usually that’s enough inspiration to spark some cooking ideas.
Once suppers are complete, I fill out lunches. I will know by what I cook normally for portions, if we will have left overs for the next day, if that’s the case I write ‘left overs’ in the next days box. Our kids take their lunches to school and Cory and I take our lunch to work every week day, so I make sure there’s a lot of variety in their lunches…a sandwich, homemade lunchable, wrap, salad, etc.
Then comes time to fill out breakfast, my favourite meal of the day! I like to have big breakfasts, but my family does not, so the breakfasts on this list are strictly for me…my family prefers quick toast or cereal during the week. I usually rotate veggie omlets and fruit + oatmeal for myself..yum. On the weekends we will make the kids a specialty breakfast one of the days and treat them to pancakes from scratch, waffles or french toast.
I have gotten so used to the meal plan method of staying organized I even add in my snacks and shake flavour…to take the guess work out of my day. Sure, sometimes we don’t stick to the plan and just feel like eating out, but most times we stay on it.
I keep a note pad next to me while I meal plan and check our pantry or fridge/freezer as I go. If I need to pick up an item, it goes on the list. I typically hit the local grocery store that afternoon and stock up for the week. If I need to get an item that’s not offered at our local grocery store or something from the butcher in the neighbouring town, I use the ‘Grocery List’ section on the bottom left of the sheet to mark those items down.
The section on the bottom middle of the sheet is for ‘Items to Bake’. I don’t bake very often, but this is where I note if there’s a birthday cake to bake for someone, pie for the church to make or if I might have time to bake the kids a treat like banana muffins or milk chocolate chip cookies.
The last section on the bottom right is for ‘Next Week’ meal ideas. I’ll sometimes be so inspired to plan that I have two many ideas for this week, so I’ll mark them here and have a head start for next week…total bonus
I know this whole process might sound very simple but it has streamlined meal making and taken the guess work out of our what we are going to eat. Having that aspect of our lives organized allows us to give more time to the fun stuff, which we love.
Please feel free to leave your comments or questions below, I’d love to hear your tips for meal planning in your home! And if you liked this post (and you’re still reading), please share…I hope it brings some organization in to someone else’s life.