meal planning

Time Management: Meal Planning

DenaFebruary 10, 2020

meal planning

As you’ll soon notice, I’ve been having a lot of fun with bullet-journaling. In addition to helping with time management and organization, I love that it’s encouraging me to get creative and start drawing which has been on my wishful to-do list for years.

As for me and my organization, so far 2020 is off to a good start. January is always a time of change, hope, excitement, and resolution. I find that January is a beautiful time for planning and reflecting, but February is the time that we can really start to gain traction if we stick with our intentions.

meal planning

As promised, I am continuing with my series on time management this year. One of the chores that we struggled with last year was grocery shopping and planning dinners. Added to the usual stresses of groceries and cooking, we are a blended family. There are six of us, including 4 picky children, 1 meat-eating adult and 1 mostly-vegetarian adult. It gets complicated. We’ve experimented with different approaches from separate meals, to joint meals, from planning as we go, and finally to meal-planning. Of all of the approaches that we’ve tried, meal-planning is definitely the most effective.

In my experience, whether you’re a blended family, a traditional family, or just cooking for yourself, meal-planning is always the best approach to food. We’ve all been there, standing in an aisle of the grocery store and asking ourselves, “What the hell do I need!?” Or standing at home in front of the refrigerator, asking ourselves, “What the hell am I making for dinner tonight?!” For me, that is one of the worst feelings ever and it has led to tears or ordering a pizza, more than I’d care to admit.

meal planning

meal planning

Meal-planning cuts all of that stress out of the equation. It just takes a bit of work upfront, but the payoff is absolutely worth it. If you meal-plan, you can also easily come up with your grocery list, which makes food-shopping that much easier too. Your meals are planned so there is no stressing out when you are hungry/busy/tired about what to make on a given night. It’s like traveling with a map, it just makes sense.

My approach to meal-planning for our family is simple, as follows:

  • I do my planning on Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon which makes me feel good about getting a jump on the week ahead.
  • I keep a running list of meals that “work for everyone.” Which in our house means that even if everyone won’t eat all of it, there is at least something substantial for each person in the overall meal.
  • I plot out dinners for the week from the list of “meals that work.”
  • From there I work out the grocery list by mentally deciding what we already have on-hand, and what we need to purchase to make each meal.

And that’s all there is to it. After that little process, our meals for the week and our grocery lists are complete. The one thing that is different for our family is that the whole thing is split. J. and I both cook (though he is definitely the better cook!) so we split up the cooking and the grocery lists. Plus, I account for the nights that my kids are with their dad. He always cooks on those nights because I usually head to yoga class during dinner time on those days.

meal planning

We also tend to shop for different things for breakfast/lunch for ourselves and kids. Dinners are our entire-family meals together, so that’s where we work together. When he goes to the store, he picks up the things for the meals that he’ll cook and I do the same. Sometimes things get mixed up mid-week if someone can’t/doesn’t feel like cooking. But as long as the meals are set, and the pantry and fridge are stocked with what we need, it all works out.

We used this method at some points last year and it went really well, but we’ve just recently started it up again. So I will make an update soon about how it is going. I will also update this post at some point with my list of “meals that work for everyone.” I want to transcribe it into my bullet journal and then I’ll share it here.

meal planning

If you’ve got any questions for me about meal-planning that you’d like me to answer in future posts, let me know. Also, if you’ve got any tips, please share those too! Lots of love and happy meal-planning, friends. xo

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