Making your meal plan happen can be as simple as writing on a piece of paper what you’ll eat for dinner each week, putting in a place that will remind you and sticking to it by having everything you need on hand. Making your meal plan happen is straight forward once you get into a regular habit and you’ll probably wonder why you didn’t start doing it sooner.
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Is Lack of Meal Planning Costing Your Money?
In the past it has often be a point of stress and frustration for me as I’d find myself going to the supermarket everyday, getting home from work at 5.30 and my husband saying “What’s for dinner”, then having to think up something, then go shopping. Meanwhile we’re sitting down to dinner at 8.30pm after I’ve snacked on rubbish and aren’t even feeling hungry anymore. Sound familiar?
I found also that I was spending way more money than I should have been because I wasn’t checking what we already had, and I’d be buying everything we’d need for a recipe when we might of actually only needed to buy half the ingredients.
Is Your Fridge Overflowing With Things You Can’t Eat?
At one point we had over 50 condiments in our fridge. Ridiculous I know. 3 bottles of one thing, 2 bottles of another, 4 bottles of something else, 5 bottles of things that are all very similar. The entire top shelf in our huge fridge was littered with condiments of every variety. It had to stop.
Here’s what I come up with to better organize myself for less stress during the weeknight dinner madness.
The Less Stress Meal Planning Technique
I allocate one day of the week to plan what I’m going to be eating for the next week (This is Saturday for me). It is better to do this the day before my shopping day (Sundays) so that I’m not scrambling at the last minute.
Looking for some easy dinner ideas? Check out some of my favourites.
Meal Planning the day before I go shopping means:
- I have time to thoughtfully pick out what you’ll put on the menu. It gives me time to check the ingredients I already have.
- It gives me time to work out what I’ll will need to buy that I don’t already have (no more condiments thank you)
- It allows me to hit the grocery store with a solid list that means I’m not buying things we already have, and I’m topping up stuff I’ll need for the week ahead
In a Practical sense, make your meal plan happen like this:
[Saturday] Plan Your Meals: Work out what you’ll be eating for the next 7 days.
[Saturday] Make Your Meal Plan Visible: To stick to it you need to be able to see it and be reminded of it when you’re hungry, tired and over it from a long day at work.
Write it up in colourful markers and stick it to your fridge. Get a chalkboard (hang it in your kitchen of course) and write it out menu style, or use post it notes stuck to your pantry, fridge, or microwave door. Make it loud, make it bright, make it impossible to ignore.
[Saturday] Ingredient List: Create a list of the ingredients you’ll need (do list with a pen and paper)
[Saturday] Shopping List: Using the same list, cross check your ingredients and and put a line through the things you already have that you don’t have to buy (making sure you have enough quantity of something in your fridge/pantry)
[Sunday] Shopping Trip: Buying the stuff you don’t already have
[Sunday] Put Shopping Away: now that you’ve have the good stuff, take care to store it. By this, I especially mean your fruits and veges. Don’t just throw them in the bottom of your fridge in the plastic they came, or empty them holus bolus into the crisper thinking they are safe in there .
If you’ve put in the effort to get this far you’re 80% there. Spend an extra 5 minutes organising your veges into air tight plastic containers, and put them on the top shelf so you’ll be reminded they are there and need to be eaten.
If you’re wondering which containers I use and love, my preference is for clear glass storage containers, so I can easily see what is what
Making your meal plan happen is a habit. One that does get easier over time and something that becomes a rhythm and part of how you go about your week.
Do you do something different as part of making your meal plan happen, or are you a complete newbie, still struggling with the 4pm dinner dileama.
If you’re looking to find your meal planning grove, first you need to start with finding a plan that works for you. I talk more about that in Getting Started With Meal Planning.
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