Nurse Loves Farmer


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Tuesday, 24 June 2014 11:46

Meal Planning 2.0

Over a year ago I wrote a blog post about my method of Meal Planning.  I should probably update that now, because my method has changed somewhat. Instead of planning a month of recipes at the beginning of each month, I have begun creating a seasonal 6-week rotating meal plan. I know people who use about one month of recipes, and that would work too, but I like to have a bit of variation and not feel like we're having things too frequently. 

The first thing to do is determine what types of meals you want to have each week. Do you need one crockpot meal, or five? Do you need to have mostly meals that cost as little as possible, or are you more concerned about a balanced diet that includes vegetarian, seafood, poultry and red meat options weekly?  Decide what you want to sort by and create lists of meal ideas using the criteria you previously defined. 

For example, I wanted to include some vegetarian, some seafood, some poultry and some red meat each week, so I created a list of vegetarian meals, a list of seafood meals, a list of red meat meals, etc. Because we tend to favour meals with red meat and chicken, these lists were longer and so I chose to include more of these types of meals in my plans than the others. 

For the simplest meal plans, use common dishes that you frequently make already. If you want to add something more adventurous in a week that you have more time to think and plan - you can always do that later.

So I made a 'rough draft' of my lists and arranged them as evenly as I could. I even used a few 'cut out' meals and shuffled them around physically to make it easier to see what I was doing. I had to make a few changes, and as I've been using it, I've made a few more changes. In theory, however, I can use this spring/summer meal plan - with maybe a few minor changes each year to account for changes in our habits - forever. Once I had finalized my lists, I printed them out and put them in my Great Binder of Organization for weekly reference. 

My meal plan includes 6 weekly lists, each includes 6 lunch and 6 supper meal options. There are some favourite meals that are repeated every 2 or 3 weeks, but many are only used once. At the beginning of each week, I just need to determine what week we are on and 'plug in' the meals as our schedule, or the weather deems appropriate. Creating my 6-week list took a bit of time and effort, but it was so worth it to not have to do any thinking to plan my meals now. 

All I need to do each week is copy the plan down to a weekly list or calendar and make a shopping list.  Last year, a friend of mine bought me this weekly planner at the bookstore he was working at and although I love anything stationary - it sat on my fridge for almost a year before I discovered this use for it. 

There are still a couple of free rows at the bottom, and I'm thinking of filling them with activity planning ideas for the kids in a similar fashion, but for now this works really well. The plan stops at Tuesday because that is the day I typically grocery shop. So, Monday/Tuesday I have to take a look at the next week, plug in my meals for that week, and then make my grocery list accordingly. I'm really loving this plan - it's also really helpful for Brian to know what meals are coming up, since I keep this on the side of our fridge for easy reference.  During the year when I teach piano, I have a couple of babysitters who spend a lot of time at my house, and they have also learned to check this for the snack plan for the day.  No more interrupting lessons to ask what snacks to give the girls! 

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