The dreaded “M” word….. meal planning. I used to be so intimidated by this small phrase. I didn’t want my meals dictated to me. It was overwhelming to try and figure out what I was going to eat for at least 21 meals plus all the ingredients needed. But, now that I’ve got my own system figured out, its not so bad. I actually enjoy meal planning because I have great recipes to choose from and I can keep our budget in check. It helps me to feel in control of a major part of our daily lives! I’ve created a free printable to help you get started.
So where do you start? You have many different choices for how you create your meal plan. How I do things is just one way. If this doesn’t work for you, keep trying, look for other ways of planning. A monthly rotational schedule works for some people, while others shop the sales and plan based on what is cheap that week.
Personally, we are pretty boring eaters so meal planning is simple. Breakfasts are the same each week. I make sure that we have enough ingredients to rotate through our favourite 3 meals. Lunches change, mostly based on what the kids are wanting to eat for the week. I try to pick simple easy lunches that I can make during the busyness of the day; or that Izzy can take over or even make on his own if life gets crazy. Dinner is picked based on what sounds good and on what we already have in the pantry or freezer.
I start with my littles when I’m planning out food because they often need more catering to than the bigger folks. Homemade teething biscuits for little Lou are on our to do list this week. He is teething and also just starting to eat. My goal is to have something that he can chew on while I’m making food, that will keep him busy, happy, and trying new things.
Mickey Blue has ever changing food interests (see my post about the bananas….). Right now he is really into pizza and hamburgers so they will be gracing many of our meals this week to keep him eating. In the throws of toddlerhood, I’m not so worried about what he is eating, but more so that he is eating. The best way to avoid tired toddler meltdowns is to keep his blood sugar levels nice and even. We are lucky because he will happily gulp down a bottle of Bolthouse Green juice (which I add fish oil to) – the only form of vegetable he will currently consume.
Izzy is an awesome eater. He will have pretty much everything that we do, but also enjoys the foods that Mickey likes.
Because everything is funner (yes, I’m sure that’s a grammatically correct word….) when something is pretty, I have a lovely Making Her Mama meal planner to help you get through these steps!
Breakfast in our house rotates through 3 major meals; almond pancakes, eggs and breakfast sausage with sautéed veggies (or an easy omelet), and bacon’n’eggs (usually also with sautéed veggies). As you can see, I eat pretty much all (S) breakfasts. They’re fast easy meals and I like to start my day the (S)atisfying way.
In order to feed my family for the week I need about 3 dozen eggs for these meals. Usually I would get 6 lbs. of ground pork but we have just received our farm fresh pig so I won’t need to buy pork for a long time now! And then I add in my staple veggies for my morning sauté. You can get in almost 1/2 your daily veggie requirement this way. I use onions (and sometimes shallots), garlic, bell peppers, mushrooms, and zucchini. On your meal planner, start by filling in your breakfasts.
Lunches are planned out in the same way. I pick what I know the kids will eat and adapt it for myself to stick with Trim Healthy Mama. (If you don’t know what that is – it’s an eating lifestyle based on food grouping and eliminating sugars – very effective for weight loss… to find out more see their official website). This week the boys will have pizza, sandwiches, and mac’n’cheese. My alternatives are listed below their meals on the planner.
Dinners are planned the same way. I look to see what we have in the freezer already – like left over frozen meals and frozen ingredients. I’ve started keeping a list of the meals we really like so that I can quickly look and see what we can make with what we have. It’s also helpful because I tend to draw a blank on even on our favourite meals when I’m planning.
Now that the meal planner is all filled in, it’s time to start on the grocery list. Check out what you already have in the fridge and then add any ingredients that are lacking. We have used many systems for grocery shopping, but what works for me right now is just writing down a list. I like to group things on my list so that I’m less likely to miss something at the store.
If you’re new to meal planning, start slowly, with meals that you already eat routinely and know how to make. This will make the whole process less stressful. It can easily be
frustrating to start out with all new recipes only to discover that you don’t really like any of them. You can click here to get your free download and start your meal planning! You won’t regret it. I also created a matching grocery list – because pretty really does help! You can get your copy of that here, as well as a master list for your favourite meals.
I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for meal planning. If you’re new to meal planning, I’d love to hear how it goes! If you’d like to follow my blog you can subscribe on the right hand side so that you don’t miss any new printables and posts!
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