Meal Planning for Health and Sanity

Do you make a weekly meal plan?  Are you one of those super-organised people who can plan for a MONTH?  If so, I am impressed.  I can only do about 4 or 5 days at a time, because frankly, with my growing family, that’s about all the time I can go without needing to go to the store again, anyway.  I don’t like to waste food and I’ve noticed that if I buy too much fresh produce at once, I feel very stressed to get it eaten in time.  And I hate to feel stressed.  I also hate needing to go back for just ‘one thing’.  Therefore, one or two big trips to the supermarket per week works for me.  But I never go in without a list.

Lists are sure nothing new (that may be the understatement of the century), but they are useless without an end goal.   So first, I figure out what meals we feel like eating this week, accounting for after-school and evening activities and prep time needed.  I still like to use paper lists, but some people do love a device, and that’s ok – this works for you techy-types too.

I use a 4×6 notecard.  I like the size, I like the lines, I like the card stock.  Don’t laugh – I just like it!

Here is my list:

grocery list, meal planning, organising

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(this one happens to be M-F, but trust me, that’s not always the case!  I am not THAT organised.)

I write down all the meals I need to make.  Currently my children both eat school dinner every day, and my husband buys a sandwich.  I generally eat leftovers, so no lunch planning needed!

I then go through the list of meals and write down all the produce I need, then the meat or ready-made items, then the groceries, dairy items, breads and baking, and finally frozen.  Hint: This order just happens to correspond roughly with the layout of my favourite supermarket!  I take quick stock of my pantry and freezer to make sure the staples are there – heaven forbid we run out of ketchup – and list those needed items as well.

When I get home, this list goes on the front of the fridge, as inevitably, I will forget what was meant to be for Wednesday…

This helps keep us healthy (mostly) because when we stick to a meal plan (more or less), we are far less tempted to order takeaway or eat out, or resort to too many ready-meals.  It keeps our bottom line healthy, as I can mostly stick to my list and avoid impulse buys…  And it keeps me sane, as I don’t have to think about what’s for dinner for another few days! 

I don’t pretend to think this meal planning method wins any awards for creativity, but it absolutely works for me.  So what do you think?  Do you do something different or better?  I am all ears!

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