Meal Planning: What’s the Plan?

Tonight, I spent maybe an hour planning out meals for the next week. I try to plan out at least the dinners we’re going to have and I try to make sure we have a few basics on hand for breakfast and lunch. Then I write out my list and hit the store.

And then after a day or two, nothing I have planned sounds good.

I try to get input from the family of what they want, but it’s usually not much help.

Meal planning stresses me out. Each week, I want to bang my head against a wall. I think I hope some ideas will randomly pop in there. If I’m really stuck, I’ll go through Pinterest, but this rarely helps. Sure, I see a lot of things that look good, but either it’s not going to be eaten by anyone else in the family, not healthy, or will take forever to make.

Now and then, I don’t mind the planning so much. Maybe I finally found a bunch of things I want to try. Or I have that burst of motivation to eat better. Or I just get lucky.

Tonight was one of those rare nights where I didn’t mind so much. Part of the reason it took me so long was because I took the time to really think about what I wanted, how many days something would last (if the recipe was a larger batch), and how I could utilize nutrition. So I wrote down all the things I wanted in the next week. I wrote out all the recipes (yes, it would’ve been faster to just print them, but sometimes I think better in writing.) Then I went to the whiteboard!

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This helps me visualize everything better. Sometimes I’ll do it a little differently. I’ll just write down “Dinner” and then make a little mark for each day. I felt like getting a bit fancy tonight though. I wish I took a picture of the completed chart, but I didn’t think about it, so I drew up this one really quick.

Going through the stuff I wrote down and all the recipes, I  then planned out the week! I tried to group recipes together that use the same ingredients. For example, parsley is something I don’t usually buy, but there are a few different recipes that call for it, so I tried putting those together the same day.

When I plan things out like this, I don’t have the days set in stone. I’m pretty sure I wrote something down for lunch of Saturday that I probably won’t actually get until Tuesday. This just helps me make sure I have everything covered. I plan on having a smoothie with every breakfast or lunch, and I’m going to have a homemade juice every day. I really need to work on getting my fruits and veggies!!

Once I had the week broken down, I looked at what I had and decided what stuff I can make later on. See that thick brown line between Monday and Tuesday? When I go to the store, I’m only going to buy stuff for the weekend, so Friday through Monday. There is a lot of produce and I just know if I buy all of it at once, it will go bad before I get to use it. So I made two shopping lists, one for the next few days, and one for the few days after that.

I usually don’t plan things out this much, but there have been a few times where I have had to. If you have read my posts about my elimination diets, you know I had to make sure I had everything planned out so I could make sure I had enough food on hand.

I know everyone has their own way of meal planning. Some have to fit special lifestyle diets, like Paleo, vegan, IIFYM diets. Some have dietary restrictions or needs they have to plan for. I want to know, how do you plan your meals? What are some of your methods? How can you improve? Comment below and let me know!

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