To those naysayers, I say puh-shaw!
If you're interested in giving it a try, here's how I go about it each week...We usually do our grocery shopping for the week on Sundays, so that morning, I sit down at the kitchen table armed with the meal planning necessities:
- my favourite recipe book (most of which I've posted at Milkybeer Cooks)
- a weekly planner/grocery list notepad (something like this)
- the family calendar
Meals are based around the main protein, with the aim of having at least two meat-free meals each week. Once I select the protein, I pick out a recipe that will take advantage of ingredients we have on hand. The recipe name goes on the meal side of the notepad and any missing ingredients go onto the grocery list side.
Next, I plan the veggies. Because we only shop once per week, there is a bit of strategy required. We tend to eat fresh vegetables early in the week, and hardier (or frozen) veg toward the end. We do try to take advantage of the local Farmer's Market and stock up on fresh, local options whenever possible. I always aim to use up what we already have on hand for the first meal of the week, but usually there isn't much left since we just buy what we need, so any required veggies are noted on the grocery list side of the notepad.
The starch is usually the easiest to plan since we typically just cycle through pasta, rice, cous cous, or potatoes or we forgo the starch portion altogether. These are all things we keep on hand in large quantities in the pantry so they don't make a frequent appearance on the grocery list.
If I know the meal will yield more than we need in a single meal, I just write in "leftovers" for the following day or make a mental note that TDSH or I will have leftovers for lunch the next day.
When an item goes on the grocery list, I sometimes make note of the quantity we need in order to avoid over buying and waste. I'd love to say this means we never throw away food, but that would be a lie. Sometimes, we just don't eat as much as I think we're going to.
Some people resist the notion of planning their meal because they don't know what they'll feel like eating on any given day. I see their point, but just because tacos is written on the planner for Wednesdays, doesn't mean you can only eat tacos on that day. We often switch things up from day to day. The beauty in planning for an entire week, is that you now have all the ingredients for up to seven different meals on hand! Which one you choose to eat is up to you.
If you've been reluctant to start planning your own meals, perhaps these cute little printable menu planning templates from Ollibird will inspire you. I'm itching to print one off and frame it for our kitchen.