Simple Meal Planning Anyone Can Do!
If you have tried lot of different meal planning methods, you are not along! I tried so many things that were more structured and involved print outs and sticking to planned meals for breakfast lunch and dinner, but who are we kidding? Sometimes things come up and we just can’t stick to the plan and if we rely on a strict plan it feels like we lost all control if we mess up one day.
That is the very reason I came up with the meal planning strategy. With this meal planning strategy you don’t have to set exact days for specific meals if you don’t want and you can move dinners around according to what you have going on. Also, as far as breakfast and lunch goes, you simple plan for certain dishes and have those ingredients on hand. Create a menu which you can choose from rather than being tied down to having oatmeal or a smoothie on a morning that you want something savory just because it’s on the plan.
How To Get Started
Family Favorites Lists
It’s very important to have a list of family favorite meals ready during meal planning to make planning easier. With this list of favorites you can also have recipe that accompany those dishes is you need them. I do family favorites list for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks as well.
Meal Plan & Groceries List
When I sit down to make our families bi-weekly meal plan. I sit with my home planner and I start my meal planning by scanning through my family favorite meals. I then pick 5 dinners, breakfast, and lunches that I think my family would enjoy in the coming 2 weeks. I cater the kids and their favs more than anyone else, because well they can be a little picky.
I don’t write anything into any fancy planner or printout. I simply write in down in my glorified home planner, which is just a pretty notebook with divider tabs for budget, meal planning, and cleaning. I do Post it notes for each category to save of notebook pages and I use a notepad Post It note on the side of that to make the grocery list of the ingredients needed to make the meal plans dishes and it is super continent to take the Post It note with me if I am going to the supermarket or sending hubby to do the groceries. Even though lately I have been ordering our groceries online.
Disclaimer: I have a mixed diet family. I am plant based, my husband is a meat eater (but always eats plant based dinner when home) and the kids are vegetarian by personal choice. I’m a mom not a mind control super hero, lol.
Also, here you get a glimpse at my cleaning schedule which is totally irrelevant in this blog post but that’s just how I have it set up.
I keep a menu in the kitchen, that way everyone knows at a glance what meals can be made with the ingredients we have. This is so convenient to have especially when you have kids because you get rid of those random request that you have non of the ingredients for! What you see is what you get, done!
I treat the dinner plan very loosely. I setup 5 meals to be repeated twice each in the 2 week meal plan period. So I get ingredients to make easy meal twice. Then I will plan it by day but if I for some reason can’t make a certain dish on a particular night it just gets moved or swapped with another day. It’s not the end of the world if we don’t stick with the plan every time! Also, durning quarantine breakfast and lunch was made everyday but now that the kids are back to school, I only prepare breakfast and lunch for them on the weekend. So, the meals are much more plant based all around here now again, because dinner is always plant based.
The Empties/Ran Out List
I keep another list next to the meal plan menu list where I will jot down things we ran out of. I also use this as a form of keeping track of things we need to by more of when making similar meal plan menus again. For example we run out of lettuce and tomato very quickly because Mia my 6 year old little lady loves salad and all veggies, and eats salads as a snack. She says “ I love to eat veggies because I like to eat healthy” then she will proceed to ask me if the particular thing she is eating is healthy like, “…I like to eat healthy…tomatoes are Healy right?” Lol, it’s adorable!
Staying Within Budget
We are a family of four, 2 adults, and 2 kids (12 & 6). Our bi weekly grocery budget is $200 and I never plan the weekend dinners, because mama needs a break! In the weekend we eat out or Chris (husband) will make dinner, which is always a plant based meal and it super appreciated!
We shop at Aldi’s, BJ’s and Publix (South Florida). Since the pandemic I have been ordering our Aldi’s groceries online through InstaCart. Ps. My blog recipes have a Chicory shopping link option with InstaCart and your local shopping options. Anyway, back to it. It’s very easy to budget when you are ordering your groceries online and it’s very easy to resist impulse buys, which add up in the end.
Before shopping online I use to simply old school it. I would whip out my phone calculator and calculate everything that would go into the cart. It’s much easier then it sounds, I promise!