Meal Planning

I’m close to three months into doing my meal planning monthly instead of on a week-by-week basis, and I’m loving it. I used to enjoy my weekly meal planning, but found that I was repeating a lot of meals and kept getting stuck in a rut. It’s also a lot easier to opt for take away on lazy days when you don’t already have something planned in advance (not a good thing). I’m trying to work a couple of new recipes in each month in the hope that my regular “routine” of recipes will expand over time. Here’s a general idea of how I go through and plan my meals for the month, based on the days of the week. I try to sit down for about half an hour at the end of each month and set up the plan for the following month all in one go. Of course it is flexible, as life can sometimes get in the way, but I find having a whole month’s plan in place has really saved me time and energy. Oh, and keep in mind that as well as these general rules I also pencil in one night a month for us to go out for dinner, and one for us to have takeaway –

Monday: I try to make this meal something nice and light, usually fish or chicken.
Tuesday: Tuesday night is Mexican night! We usually have something like beef or chicken tacos/burritos. Nice and easy and fast to prepare.
Wednesday: Wednesday night is RED MEAT night. Sebastian is a huge red meat eater, so this night is usually catered for him. Steak or lamb is usually on the bill.
Thursday: I try to make a kind of chicken dish on a Thursday night, chicken is easy to use in so many different recipes that this is one of the easiest nights to pick a recipe for.
Friday: I’m usually exhausted on a Friday night, so if we have something fun planned (like dinner from our favourite Thai restaurant), I’ll try and plan it for Friday so I don’t have to worry too much about cooking.
Saturday: I usually have more time to spend preparing and cooking, so I’ll usually try to pick a new recipe or something a bit more time consuming for Saturday nights.
Sunday: Sunday night is usually a heartier sort of meal, and always something that we will have leftovers remaining for Monday’s lunch.

Meal Planning

Meal planning is an important part of keeping a household running smoothly, and I’ve found a way to streamline the process and make it easier for me each week (oh, by the way, I’ve switched back to weekly meal planning as monthly planning wasn’t working for us for financial reasons). I now go to the grocery store once a week, but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make in order to save us a little bit of money each week. I used to struggle with coming up with a variety of meals from week to week, that kept everyone satisfied. I would often ask Sebastian for meal suggestions but he would always draw a blank on what he wanted. With this new method in place, it makes it so much easier for him to have a quick glance at the options and tell me what he wants for the week.

I typed up a list of meals that we frequently eat (if you’re creatures of habit like we are, then this should work well for you too), for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. I simply hand Sebastian this list when I need him to give me some suggestions for the week, he writes them down, and I go from there. He’ll often give me red meat suggestions, and I try to work in some chicken and fish options into the week alongside these. I’ll then go ahead and plan our lunches taking into consideration what we’ll have leftover throughout the week. Breakfast is pretty straightforward, but I like to mix it up to keep things interesting. I also make sure to check my day planner to see if we have any events coming up that might tie into meal times. From there, I plan out the week.

I fill out my weekly meal planner (this one is from kikki k, but there are a million free options available online), making sure we have a nice variety of meals throughout the week. Because these are all things I make over and over again, it’s really easy for me to then go through the ‘essentials’ list I typed up to highlight everything we’ll need for the week. I set out the essentials list in order of areas I move through while grocery shopping. That way I don’t look down at the list and see something I should have picked up 3 aisles ago, I can easily move through the store and pick up items as I go. I highlight items in pink that I know we definitely need, green is for the things I need to check the cupboard for before I head to the store. So that’s how I meal plan! The last few times I’ve used this method we’ve saved about $40-$50 in “incidental” purchases as I move through the store. So it’s working well for me, and I hope it works well for you!