Meal Planning doesn’t have to be scary and stressful. Here I give specific steps for how to intentionally implement family meal planning.
A Necessary Evil
Ok, so that’s an exaggeration. Meal planning is probably one of my least favorite things about managing a home though. Mind you, not my least favorite, but it’s down there. I think because it comes up every single week and there has to be some creativity to it. I can’t just put a podcast on and go through the motions like I do when I pickup the house. There has to be thought behind all the meals to make sure they aren’t being too repetitive. And I want to make sure that is healthy, on a budget, etc.
Even though I don’t necessarily enjoy meal planning, I really believe it is the least stressful option. The other option being winging it every day. It’s nice to make out the meal plans for the week, create a grocery shopping list from that and then get everything I need. I don’t have to think about our meals until the following week, which is a huge win for this momma. I already have tons of stuff on my mind as it is and I don’t need “What do we eat tonight?” taking up precious real estate up there. Another benefit to meal planning is that it saves money. And who doesn’t like that?
A Smooth Running Home
Because meal planning saves stress AND money, it is worth taking time to figure out how to do it well. There are so many things I am juggling and whatever I can do to make things easier when it comes to managing a home, the better. Because of how I am wired, I am always thinking, “There has got to be a way to do this better” for pretty much everything. And meal planning falls under that thought frequently. People who run a business are always thinking that, why not me? Running a home well is a lot like running a business well and I want to have the same intentionality they have in regards to time and money management.
Naturally, I’ve spent quite a lot of time trying to figure this out. At the moment, I feel that I have a pretty good system down. My menu planning and grocery shopping takes about 1 hour a week and is running the smoothest that it ever has. Because of that, I wanted to share it with you to help you with your menu planning woes.
How to Begin Family Meal Planning
Ok, so I suggest you pick a day of the week to menu plan on. Even better if you can pick a certain time of day. I do it every Thursday after lunch. The kids go outside to play and I sit down and work on it. Make sure that you are undistracted and focused. Give complete attention to working on it.
Get Anylist. Seriously. Or any menu planning app. This has saved me SO much time. It allows you to save recipes to the app and transfer the ingredients over to a grocery list (also in the app). When you find one on the internet you can simply click a button and the recipe goes directly into the app. How cool is that??
On top of that, it has a calendar that you can put the recipes on and have your meal plan all nice and organized for the week. Even better, you can add family members to it and they can see the grocery list and the menu plan. So when my husband gets home from work and I am occupied, he can just look at the Anylist app on his phone and see what we are eating that night and start cutting up ingredients. We have used this app for years and are so happy with it.
After you have the meal planning app
Figure out when you want to grocery shop and when you want the menu plan to start. I menu plan on Thursday, do grocery delivery and pickup Saturday morning and the menu plan starts Sunday morning. So I schedule the meals Sunday morning through Saturday evening. I like the consistency of this and it works best for my family’s schedule.
Now, If you have a bunch of recipes added into your Anylist, then all you have to do is think through all Breakfasts, Lunches and Dinners. I do breakfast for every morning first. We do a casserole every Sunday and then I pick something simple to have every morning the rest of the week. And yes, 6 days of the week we have the same thing for breakfast.
For lunch we do simple as well…the same thing every day for that week. Done. Now on to dinner. On Sunday evenings we always do a crock pot (which I double). That way we can turn it on that morning, go to church, have family time and voila, dinner is done for us. And bonus, dinner is done Monday night as well. Then I pick 2 other dinners and double them so that there are leftovers every other day. We don’t have to cook every day and it makes it simpler for menu planning (and grocery shopping) purposes.
After getting all the meals picked on the Anylist app, putting them onto the menu plan and transferring the ingredients over to the grocery list, I add in things like milk, snacks, fruit, etc. You know, stuff we use on a regular basis or things we are out of.
And that’s it. Once you get enough recipes in the Anylist App, it really becomes smoother and smoother because there is a big selection on there. I really think it is worth the time to sit down at a separate time and just fill the App up with tons of recipes. That way, when you go to sit down, you can easily find recipes. The App also lets you organize so if you have casseroles every Sunday morning, like us, you can make a category that says “Sunday Morning Casseroles” with a big list. I believe the more organization and time you put into it at the front end, the easier it’ll be when you sit down and do your weekly menu planning.
Welp, that’s it for now. I really do hope this has helped you streamline your menu planning. Feel free to reach out with any questions. For those of you who do better with a simple set of steps, here they are below. You can refer to the post above for any explanations of each step.
7 Family Meal Planning Steps
- Get Any List (or any menu planning app).
- Start filling the app up with recipes. Spend a lot of time on this. Research recipes. Figure out which categories you need and create them. You can also find a lot of your favorites online. Download them onto the app.
- Pick a day of the week to menu plan on. From there, pick a time of day. Put it in your planner!
- When it comes time to menu plan, be completely undistracted. Have the kids go do something outside, put on a dvd, whatever you need to do. It will go quicker if you can focus.
- Start with breakfast. Plan every breakfast for each day and use the app to put it on the menu planning calendar. Repeat the process for lunch and dinner.
- Put things on the grocery list (also in the app). The app lets you do one click and put all of the ingredients from each recipe into the grocery list.
- Add things onto the list that you are out of or that you like to have on hand (Milk, eggs, flour, sugar, etc.).