I thought I’d share with you all some tricks and tips I’ve come up with on meal planning and how it can help you become more organized and less stressed out about what to for dinner every night!
Having your week’s meals planned out makes shopping a lot easier, and cheaper. If you have a list you’re less tempted to buy stuff you don’t need (Oreos will be the death of me!). It also keeps you from forgetting items and buying duplicates of things you might already have in your pantry. I display our meal plan on the fridge, which also cuts out the usual “what’s for dinner?” question I would otherwise hear 50 times in a week. If you have small children, you might want to display a version with pictures so that they can see what’s going to be on their plates later. A quick google search for Food Icons should give you lots to work with.
I plan my week on Friday mornings cause that’s the day the weekly sales start at my grocery store. I try to get 90% of the items I’ll need for the week, but I usually have to make one pit stop at the store later in the week to get items we’ve run out of (fruits that spoil quickly I buy in smaller quantities twice a week). I’ll also pick up items I want to be as fresh as possible when we eat it, like kaisers for our Wednesday night burgers.
First, I made a list of all the meals we enjoy, including breakfast foods (more on that to come), that I refer to when making my weekly meal plan. I have them organized by categories like Breakfast, Poultry, Beef, Pasta, Pork, Fish and Miscellaneous.
I also roughly assigned food categories to the days of the week, like every Tuesday I plan a pasta dish, and every Friday is “fun meal” (pizza, tacos, etc…) night. Doing this helps me make sure we don’t have too much overlap from the different categories. It also helps me ensure that we make a rotation through all our favourites and we’re not eating the same 10 dishes over and over.
The next thing I do is take a quick inventory of the pantry, fridge and freezer to see what I have on hand that I can use for that week’s meals.
Do your shopping, but be flexible
This week’s meal plan included salmon steaks on Monday night. However, when I got to the store they were out of fresh salmon. BUT, they always have canned so I did a quick switch in my head from Salmon Steaks to Salmon Cakes. Being flexible like that will help you with your shopping.
I also sometimes find myself switching nights if we’re busy and need a less complicated dish, someone is against that night’s meal selection, or even on account of weather (who wants to BBQ in the pouring rain?).
When I shop I keep an eye out for deals on items that are not needed for the current week’s meal plan and will pick them up to use the following week.