{Desperately Seeking} Meal Plan Follow-Up


Editor’s Note: This is Leslie’s follow-up to her initial request for meal planning tips and tricks in our series, {Desperately Seeking} Reader’s Advice. -Christina

I am in the middle of my third week of official meal-planning, and LOVING it! No more are the days of wondering all afternoon what the heck I’m going to make for dinner; gone are the days of running to the grocery store for one single item. I can’t thank everyone enough for all the great ideas. Once I got motivated and organized, this task became a piece of cake!

I have used reader ideas, combined with this fantastic Meal Planning worksheet that I found at uncluttered.com. This worksheet is really helpful for me. I’m very visual, so it helps me to actually see every meal set up on paper in an organized way. Also, the sheet includes planning boxes for breakfast and lunch. I am home full-time right now, and planning lunches ahead has gotten us out of a long-standing PBJ rut. The “snacks” column helps me stock up on healthy food for munchies during the day, so nobody gets into the crabby-hungry state. The best part is the “grocery list” column; I can fill in the meal, and immediately write down whatever I may need for ingredients.

Thanks to all of you, here’s my basic system:  Each Friday, I sit down with my worksheet, my calendar, and one cookbook (week 1, I started with a few, and I planned a few too many new meals that just didn’t happen). I make notes on the worksheet for nights when my husband will not be home for dinner, or when we have afternoon commitments that will limit food prep time. Then, I start filling in the chart. I work a little bit from what I have in the fridge, and choose the rest based on scheduling and what sounds good. I narrow down meals from the following categories (I write them at the top of the sheet so I don’t have to think too hard):

  • pasta
  • stir fry
  • mexican
  • homemade pizza
  • breakfast dinner (I always put this on my busiest day/evening, as it can be on the table in about 15 minutes total)
  • soup (I usually fill this in for a lunch)

Lastly, I assume that one evening will be leftovers, and one will most likely be a dinner out. I make extra of every meal so that we have some for leftover lunches during the week, and some to freeze. For example, when I made rice for our Beans and Rice, I made a double batch and froze some for a future busy day.

As you may be able to see by my completed worksheet, I allow myself to be flexible; I switch meals as needed/wanted, and I don’t force myself to cook something I’m not in the mood for. The bottom line, for me, is that I have the necessary groceries for a week’s worth of meals.

So, thank you all for your planning, shopping, and cooking-ahead ideas. You have helped to change my kitchen in a huge way that has brought some peace and sanity to our days!!!

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Erica says:

    Great worksheet! Glad things are working for your meal planning 🙂

  2. Purple Cook says:

    I like the category, prep for tomorrow on the meal planner!

    I created my own chart years ago, with the days of the week on the top half with the meal assigned to each day. My grocery list section is the bottom half and is organized by section in the order I go through the grocery story – produce, bakery, meat, aisles (you know the rest of the grocery store), frozen, dairy. Then my grocery list is also quick and easy to get through.

    I love meal planning!

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