elephant projects, home

Continuing with meal planning

On Tuesday, I wrote about the beginnings  of my Elephant Project: Beginning to Meal Plan.  Here I continue with a plan to start and give you a resource to use as you start.

So if you want to meal plan, where do you start?

It is easy to become overwhelmed with the options available to you. Something I have found to be important, is consider, “Am I a paper person? or a gadget gal?” If you like using paper, don’t attempt an online meal planning service. It will only overwhelm and discourage you. Trust me, I tried an online service and it was too much work to do something a way that is not in tune with how I work best. However if you love your electronic “stuff” and already function well that way, then getting some of your recipes into a meal plan system may not be as overwhelming as it was for me.

Then I highly recommend writing down why you want to meal plan. What is your reason to do this? Otherwise, it will become just one more thing you need to do each week or month. Again, this comes from my personal experience. Several years ago, someone recommended it and my planning, list making self thought it was a good idea. It is a good idea and has served me well, but recently I have slacked on my meal planning. My heart just was not in it, and the task was quickly becoming something I dreaded. In reading this project, I realized this was largely because I did not have a clear reason why I was going through the effort of meal planning. Writing my “why?” on the top of my meal plan list for the week has helped me to refocus on why this home management step is important to me and how it helps our family.

“I meal plan to help encourage us to make healthier food choices and spend our food budget money with intention.”

Earlier in the week, I recommended you list several meals that you would like to eat during the week and put it on your refrigerator. This is an easy beginning if meal planning is new to you.

If you are ready for more structure, take your list and assign meals to particular days. Keep in mind your activities for the week. Don’t plan to cook a big elaborate dinner on nights you have evening commitments or have been gone all day from the house. Save those meals for days you are home or have a relaxing evening available. In our home, I have created a routine to our meals (I know, me and my organizing). Mondays we have Italian food (pasta, meatballs, lasagna, etc.), Thursday evenings is “breakfast for supper” night where we cook breakfast type foods for supper. (This particular one allows me the opportunity to make more time consuming breakfast foods that I just don’t do for our normal busy mornings.) Saturday can be a more elaborate meal or a “gotta go” meal, depending on our projects and plans for the day and the need to empty the refrigerator of leftovers.

The likely hood you would have all the items for the meals up plan is rare. Here is where your meal plan becomes a guiding tool in making your grocery list. I have created a sheet that I print with my meal plan and grocery list together it is easy to reference my meal plan if necessary when I am out shopping. Click here to see and download the printable.

Meal planning can be as elaborate or as basic as you want it to be. The freedom that I have found in planning my meals ahead of time, and the confidence in knowing I have what I need when it is needed, has been the biggest blessing for me. As our family continues on what I am calling our food journey and we enter the summer months of fresh produce, I am eager to see how I can use this meal planning tool to help us to be seasonal eaters and learn to enjoy eating with healthy food choices in mind.

What about you? Have you begun meal planning? What is your reason for doing so? As the community grows here at Inspire To Simple, we all would love to hear your comments. 

I am working through Tsh Oxenrider’s One Bite At A Time. Her book takes the seeming elephant-sized list of ideas and projects that can be part running your household and brakes them down into bite-sized projects you can read and start to do in a few moments. The posts in this series are the recording of my journey through her book and the recommended projects.

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