Last week I posted about how to get started with meal planning. I got a good response so I decided to do a little follow up post about how to stick with it once you’ve started.
Like with many good intentions, we start out strong. But after a while, we can fall into the trap of complacency. Life happens. Other things take priority. I totally get it! However, I think it’s easier to stick with something when we think about our “why” or our reason for doing it in the first place. Maybe your “why” for meal planning is to put healthier meals on the table. Or maybe it’s that you want/need to stick within a budget. Whatever it is, if it’s important to you, then you can remind yourself of your “why” when it comes time to do your meal planning each week (or however often you do it).
In my “how to get started” post, I mentioned a few tips that help make my life easier when planning out my family’s meals and I wanted to go into a little more depth and explain how each of these help me stick with meal planning.
One tip I gave was to make a list of meals that you/your family like to eat. By having a running list of meal options, it makes choosing what to make each week easier because you don’t have to think about it. There have been weeks that I’m sure I wouldn’t have taken the time to meal plan if I didn’t have a list of meals to choose from. I also have a few Pinterest boards that I refer to when I want to try something new. If it works out and we want to make it again, I just add it to my list.
Another one I mentioned was my dry erase calendar. It’s a five week calendar and I just fill in the dates and meals. I like having a monthly calendar because it shows me what I’ve planned in the weeks prior so that I’m not repeating the same meals too often. It helps me introduce a little more variety into our meals. Plus, if there was a meal I didn’t make the week before for some reason, I can usually move it to the current week because it’s likely I’ll have all the ingredients needed. One other way the calendar is useful is that I can put certain events on it that might require me to plan a different kind of meal based on time available. For example, we had a movie night last week with our church group that started at 6. My husband gets home at 5:30. So when planning meals out at the beginning of the week, I knew that I either needed to make a meal ahead of time (like a crock pot meal) or it needed to be a low-prep meal (like breakfast for dinner).
Lastly, I try to do my meal planning and grocery shopping at the same times each week. We get our local grocery ad on Saturdays. So on Saturday I will browse through the ad to see what kind of sales they are running and circle anything we need. Then, when I sit down to meal plan–usually Saturday or Sunday–I have my ad with me and I can see if there is anything else I need to purchase based on the meals I’m making that week. Monday is a double ad day, so I keep the ad from the week before to refer to as well. It’s totally possible that there is an item in the previous week’s ad that I didn’t need last week, but I do this week.
Each of these tips helps me streamline my process so I get my meal planning done faster and it doesn’t feel like such a big task. At first, it might be difficult to implement these changes into your schedule, but if you stick with it, I’m sure you’ll be glad you did.
What is your “why” for meal planning?