I never would have thought that I would be writing a blog post about meal planning-who am I?!?! But, here we are, writing a blog post about meal planning!
Meal planning is something that Ryan and I have been doing for many of years. We have a little dry erase calendar on our refrigerator that we use for appointments, school schedule, and then for our meals. It’s amazing and has worked wonders for us, but recently we just added this amazing day of the week chalkboard to our new kitchen-it’s so much prettier than the dry erase calendar on our fridge (which we still have and use for basically the rest of our daily life).
While I wouldn’t say Ryan and I are the most organized, have-it-all-together parents, one thing I don’t mind tooting our own horn about is our meal planning abilities. It’s just something that has always worked for us, and when we started years ago, it just stuck. We’ve figured out what has worked for us over the years and what hasn’t and are at a point where it just runs like clockwork for us!
Obviously I am by no means an expert (HA!) and what works for one doesn’t work for all, but I’ll share with you what has worked for us and you can use and adapt as it works for your life!
Choose a designated grocery shopping day.
We found that once we chose one specific day to do the grocery shopping for the WHOLE week, it made things easier and eliminated stopping at the grocery store a few nights a week to grab things for dinner. Those “quick” trips always result in spending unnecessary money as well-you always end up tossing more into your cart than you need. It may seem like common sense (wow, Rebecca, what a great piece of advice!), but I have chatted with and know so many gals who just shop during the week as needed. I personally don’t have time for that-it has saved us so much time and money shopping for the week one time, on the same day every week.
It may take a few weeks to get in a groove, but make it a priority to do it-same day, even around the same time, if possible (for us it’s Sunday after church).
It’s time to meal plan, now what? Work backwards.
When we are planning our meals, before we even decide what to have, we like to look at the week ahead first, and see what evening conflicts we have. Things like piano lessons and gymnastics always affect what kind of meal we prepare. We usually like to have somewhat easier meals on those nights if possible. If there are any other evening events we have that could impact dinner we make note of that, too! On nights that I may have something, or Ryan does, we usually dub those as “On Your Own” evenings. Translation: sandwiches/cereal/whatever you feel like throwing together.
Once we figure our evening conflicts out, we then start filling in our meals accordingly. We have our go to meals that we tend to reach for frequently, but as of late we have been adding in some newer recipes, ones that are WW friendly and also ones that can be cooked in our InstantPot and AirFryer (we got them for Christmas).
Again, not rocket science, but I am telling you, taking the time to just sit down and plan the meals saves so much money and time. For Ryan and me, we aren’t always physically together when we plan so you don’t need to have a formal sit down to plan. A lot of the time it’s through text message for us. We will both look on our phones for recipes or things we want to try and text the links to each other with a “how about this?” and then we either agree on it or we knix it.
Moral of the story-easier to work backwards to plan meals accordingly than to plan meals, grocery shop for them and then realize on Tuesday night, oh crap we can’t make this tonight because we have XYZ! then you find yourself scrambling for another meal option or spending money you don’t need to!
You planned your meals, now it’s time to make a list!
Again, so simple. This doesn’t require much of an explanation-we look at our meals, check out the ingredients and see what we have vs. what we need. We use Instacart (more on that later), so we create our list by just adding what we need directly into our cart. If there are things that we need that Aldi doesn’t carry I make a note in my phone of the items we need to get at Target (we go either Sunday or Monday for these items every week-again, a designated day).
Once we go through our meals, we add onto our list other things we need-things for the girls’ lunches, snacks, drinks, etc. Sometimes this is such a pain for us because we don’t feel like rooting through our pantry and fridge to see how many poptarts we have left, or how much lunch meat we have left. It can be time consuming, but again, once you make it a priority it eliminates the mid week grocery store trips!
Time to grocery shop!
We actually started using Instacart a few months ago and we haven’t looked back. It is a game changer, guys! We haven’t truly gone grocery shopping in months. I actually went to Aldi for the first time yesterday-I had to pick up a few things to make a dessert for this weekend. I found myself being sucked into “oooo this looks good, and so does this!” Luckily I stuck to my list, though!
Anyway, once we add all of the items needed for our meals and for the week, we schedule our groceries to be delivered on Sunday-always on Sunday! Our groceries being delivered on Sunday is just like you shopping the same day every week (except we have the luxury of having our groceries delivered).
I have to tell you-not only has meal planning made us so much more organized and saved us money, so is using Instacart. We stick to our list, and don’t succumb to grocery store cravings or impulse buys!
What’s been our favorite thing about meal planning?
If you have any questions at all just let me know and happy meal planning!