As I write this, my office window is open letting in the most delicious spring breeze. My hubby is outside putting down the decking boards on our front yard patio/pergola (future reveal!). The babies are sleeping. *sigh* A moment to sit down and relax…yes, writing a blog post can be relaxing! I always feel so accomplished when I have another post completed, so it feels relaxing and productive at the same time.
Today I want to share with you the reasons why I meal plan and plus some tips on how to do it. Everyone meal plans differently and you really just have to find what works for you. It may take some trial and error, or just a few weeks to really get into the habit of sticking to it.
How I really got started meal planning: I meal planned off and on ever since we got married. I don’t know why I couldn’t keep at it for more than a few weeks, other than the fact that maybe I got lazy because it does take a little bit more of an effort to do, although the benefits far outweigh the extra mojo needed to stick with it!
At the end of last year, I was heavily pregnant with our second baby (sweet baby boy!) and I was honestly too tired and too fat to really come up with nice dishes to serve for supper. As a result, most days I didn’t know what I was going to make for supper until an hour or two before hand. Hence, some very slapped together meals that you could obviously tell were…well…slapped together. I made the executive decision that when baby was born, I was going to start seriously meal planning and coming up with nice, tasty dishes to serve my family.
Why I Meal Plan: Meal planning helps me cook intentionally. I wake up in the morning and I already know what’s going on the table for supper that evening. This means that I can pull out my meat to start thawing earlier in the day or, if I have a really busy day, I already know what I’m throwing in the crock pot. Cooking intentionally makes meal prep more enjoyable for me. When I had no idea what I was going to make for supper, I didn’t enjoy the cooking as much. But when I know what I’m making, I enjoy the process so much more. And eating it afterwards is rewarding too when I hear my husband praise me for the meal I just made.
Meal planning also helps me plan my shopping list. I plan my meals for the whole week and then form my grocery shopping list accordingly. This helps so much because I know I’m going to use what I buy instead of just aimlessly shopping for something that I don’t really know if I’m even going to use. I plan for everything when I make my shopping list. I plan my suppers, baking days, fellowship meals at church, snacks I need to take to social gatherings, everything. Nothing gets left up to chance. This way, I’m organized and I know exactly what I’m making for different events. It also helps me plan my week so I know if I need to start making something a day in advance.
Tips On How To Meal Plan: I started by investing in a couple good cookbooks. Up till then, most of my cookbooks were of the “homemade” variety with no photos and, in general, not very tasty dishes. I decided that to do my meal planning right and to get the most enjoyment out of it, I needed to have new cookbooks. If you need some ideas on great cookbooks, check out my reviews on The Girl Who Ate Everything and A Year With Six Sisters’ Stuff. My goal is to continue to expand my library of cookbooks just to have a variety of recipes to choose from. (I just ordered a new one the other day! I will let you know how it rates!) Pinterest is also a wonderful source for recipes, although I don’t use it as much simply because I find that I don’t think of it as often since I have to search through my phone to find the recipes. (Easier to page through a book, ya know?)
Invest in a day planner. If you already have your life centered around a day planner anyway, great! I also use mine to write down my scheduled meals for the week. I plan my meals according to the day and whether or not it’s a busy day, or a more slow-paced one. If it’s a busy day, I may plan a crockpot meal, or it will be a meal that is quick to throw together. On days where I’m not as busy and have more time to cook, I’ll plan a meal that may be a little more involved. Using my day planner helps me see at a glance what meals are upcoming. If I’m planning a crockpot meal that has meat in it, I know that I’ll have to thaw the meat in the fridge overnight to have it ready to go in the crockpot in the morning. As you plan your menus, be sure to source each recipe so you know exactly where to find it and don’t have to search through all your cookbooks.
I hope this is helpful and inspiring for you in getting started in meal planning. Maybe you’ve been meal planning for a while now and have some tips you’d like to share! Comment below!