We all have to eat! It is one of the few traits that all of us share. No matter if we eat out, order in, or cook, planning a meal is just another way to stay organized in life! If you or your family member is on a special diet, you want to eat healthier, have a wider variety of meals, save time and money, give menu scheduling a chance.
Like every other organizing process, you just need to dedicate the time to plan and establish a system. The rest will be just as easy as following the steps. To stick to the plan, try not to overwhelm yourself. Keep it simple and easy in the beginning; once you get the hang of it you can be as elaborate as you want.
Customize the plan to your lifestyle. Should it be very rigid or have some breathing room? For example, some people plan monthly while others might pencil in a few days or a week at a time. Either way you go about it, success can be achieved by finding what works best for your individual lifestyle.
Observe the consistencies in your weekly routine. Think about how many total meals you need to plan. How many times do you usually eat out? Do you like leftovers? Figure out how many meals can be turned into leftovers. Once you figure out the number of meals, it is best to group them. For example, 2 simple dinners, 1 formal dinner, 3 lunches, 2 breakfasts and so on. This step will help you a lot as you search for recipes.
Choose a Platform:
Start planning by finding a calendar or list making platform that you are comfortable with. Some people work better with pen & paper but I personally like to create both my calendar and to do lists online. I love the fact that I have access to it 99% of time from anywhere, it can be edited easily, printed anytime and shared with the click of a button. There are many apps available for meal planning, list making and shopping that can help you in your quest.
Now that you know which meals you need to plan and for which days, it’s time to put it all together. Based on your daily obligations, decide which days are best for preparing meals that may take longer. Order takeout or eat leftovers on your busiest days. If you are on a special diet, use that as a guide for pairing days and meals together. What days work well for crock-pot cooking or grilling? The options are endless. Some prefer to assign a certain day to a certain type of food each and every week like Taco Tuesday or Meatloaf Monday. This creates stability in the calendar and it’s fun too!
There is more fun to be had looking for recipes. As you plan more meals, it is best to create a master recipe section that you can refer to whenever needed. This can be done by collecting hard copies of recipes or via an online app, digital document, or using your bookmarks bar. At the beginning, start by filling the days up with your favorite foods. Then you can search for more recipes if needed. What is your current food mood? Ask your family members if they have any special requests. Search based on your diet. Many people say the weather has a big effect on their choice of meal. Cold days call for comfort food and salads are great options for hot days. Take a look at this video for tips on organizing your recipes.
Before you head out shopping, take an inventory of your fridge and pantry. Make a list of what you have or what you need to refill. Pick a day of the week for shopping. Some people pick a day when they know items are usually on sale or when the grocery store is not as busy. Once you get back from shopping, do as much prep as possible for upcoming meals. Cut fruits, make salads or put crock pot meals in a bag. Here is an article on how to organize your fridge.
Hopefully you will get in the habit of meal planning and enjoying the process. Take it easy and remember the most well stocked kitchens aren’t perfect. There will be days that you hit an obstacle or you just don’t feel like sticking to the cooking plan. Be prepared by freezing food when you make extra. You can just warm it up on days that you are too tuckered out or you just don’t feel like doing any of it. Bon appétit!