For the last couple of weeks we’ve been talking about meal planning and how it can help you gain control of your family’s food budget, reduce food waste and end the nightly scramble to put something nutritious on the table. Today I want to talk about how you can develop a meal plan to suit the way your family eats.
First off, follow this link to download my meal planning chart and guide. Follow the directions on the page and you’ll receive a blank chart in PDF form you can print out plus a review of the process I’m going to cover in this post.
Print as many blank sheets as you’ll need for your planning session. I’ve always been paid weekly so I shopped weekly. Your shopping interval may be different.
I’ve divided the chart into four meals for every day of the week. You don’t have to plan every meal. My breakfasts tend to be fruit and yogurt or oatmeal so I don’t bother writing them down. Likewise, my lunches are nearly always a big salad or leftovers. However, you might find this area useful for planning prepared meals for eating on the go. I did a lot of that when I was a working single mom.
Start by making note of any special meals you may have planned, or activities that may mean you’ll be coming home late for dinner. I liked to use my slow cooker on days when my son had karate lessons. It was so nice to walk into the house and have 80 percent of the meal completed.
Using the photo above as an example, you can see we’re having a rib eye dinner on Saturday. I need to make sure to order the steaks from the butcher, so I’ve made a note to remind me in the To Do section below the main chart. You could also remind yourself to soak beans, or take a casserole out of the freezer to thaw whatever you need to do.
Next go through your pantry and freezer making note of items you’d like to eat. I need potatoes for my Saturday meal and a quick glance tells me I don’t need to buy more. There’s lentils, pumpkin, artichoke hearts and mascarpone cheese that all need to be eaten. I’ve written down the items I want to use this week and after looking through my recipes and searching online I’ve decided to make artichoke meatballs and butternut squash and lentil loaf. Another week I made the mac n cheese shown above.
Once I’ve decided what to make with the items I have on hand, I’ll fill in the rest of chart and make note of items I need to buy at the grocery store in the grocery list section. I make sure I have my regular staples and a few other items. If you like to shop weekly sales this is where you’d write those items down.
You’ll notice I’ve left some nights blank. That’s because with just the two of us we tend to change our minds and eat out or just have something simple like soup and sandwiches. I have found the chart to be really handy for planning my blog posts and batch cooking sessions. Keep an eye out for the artichoke meatballs and lentil loaf *wink*
Download your copy of my meal planning chart and guide and give it a try for a couple weeks. If it doesn’t suit, use it as a jumping off point to design your own.