These photos sure do make meal planning look sexy, don’t they?
Okay, well maybe they don’t to you… but to me they do. Hmm… I wonder what that says about me…?
Anywho… I last month I shared with you 10 weeks worth of meal plans and promised to share a little more about my meal planning process in general at a later date. I thought it might be more beneficial (and simple) to share with you in a wins vs. fails type way. Perhaps more eloquently translated into a “dos and don’ts” list.
MY MEAL PLANNING WINS
Write it down. If it didn’t make it from your head to paper it certainly isn’t going to make it from the grocery store to the table. I used to use an app so I had everything online and on my phone (recipes, meal plans, grocery lists), but through some trial and error I discovered I prefer good ‘ol pen to paper for this sort of thing. I found this awesome meal planning notepad and decided to just recreate it on my own because I didn’t want the perforated shopping list feature. As you can see I’ve accumulated quite the stack of meal plans. My goal is to sift through all of these and extract our favorite meals and create sort of a ‘meal planning food bank’ if you will. Speaking of favorite meals…
Have a few favorite meals on rotation every week. As adventurous as I like to get in the kitchen, my family (and wallet) don’t always appreciate it. I have about 5 meals that are on heavy rotation through out a month’s time. Each week they fill the slots of (usually) 3 days worth. And then I’m only left 2-3 days to get creative with trying out new recipes or maybe giving other less favorite but still delicious meals a turn. We always have at least one meal out with family over the weekend and I always schedule one night of leftovers in there. When I was growing up my mom called it “Mustgo” night. As in “everything MUST GO!” It might not be the most satisfying night of the week but it helps contribute to overall less waste which we are all completely on board with.
Only one challenging meal a week. There are plenty of weeks where I don’t get creative in the kitchen at all. But I’ve found that on weeks when I do want to, I’m most successfully in tackling only one newbie at a time. Buying new spices and other pantry items can get expensive quick and cooking up new recipes (especially if ethnic) can often throw one for a loop. Try and keep it simple.
NEVER shop with out a meal plan. You will have everything you don’t need and only have of what you do when it comes time to actually cook. Produce will eventually get thrown out because it goes bad. And you are 99.9% certain to go over your budget — or at the very least not get the biggest bang for your buck. I promise you.
Using past week’s meal plans as inspiration instead of Pinterest. Um, doy? This one took me WAY too long to figure out. Pinterest is endless. My previous (insert relevant number here) weeks worth of meal plans is not. AND they generally come with some sort of family review. ;) #bonus
MY MEAL PLANNING FAILS
Trying out too much weird stuff on my family at once. So much complaining. So little time.
Waiting until the last second to meal plan. I’m so horribly guilty of this one. We do our grocery run on Tuesdays. So that means that, technically, I could whip up a meal plan for the following week the very next day… on Wednesday. But do I do that? Heavens no. I’m usually scrambling the morning of grocery day the following week when I had a whole gosh darn week to do it. Not sure if this is ever going to change but, #mealplanninggoals.
Straying from my shopping list. The super awesome part about having a shopping list attached right to your meal plan is that as you add meals to your plan you can add ingredients you need to you shopping list at the same time. Sometimes I pick something up at the store that I’ve genuinely forgotten to add to my list and would otherwise be on it. BUT sometimes I pick up some other produce that I’ve been wanting to work into our diets and think that ‘I’ll incorporate is somehow’. But usually this doesn’t work for me, and those are the buys that end up going to waste.
I’m working on putting something together regarding our specific favorite meals and meal plans — since I know we’re all always on the lookout for easy to put together nutritious meals for active families — but that one is still in the works!
Do share, what are some of your meal planning fails and wins?