Meal Planning 101

When Stephen and I were first married I never meal planned, and I never made grocery lists.  I would walk up and down the aisles of Stop and Shop, pick out what looked good, not look at the price and have no concept about how it would fit into a weekly meal plan.  That didn’t matter though, because at least four nights a week we were ordering in or going out to dinner.  I would end up throwing away most of our groceries and then complain that “eating healthy was so expensive”.

Fast forward 7 1/2 years, I now have meal planning and grocery shopping down to a science.  I may not be able to iron a shirt without burning it, but food in this house is a well oiled machine.

I grocery shop twice a week.  Once on Sundays for a majority of our food for the week and for dinners for Monday through Thursday, and once on Thursdays for perishables and dinner food for Friday thru Sunday.

So today I am planning for my grocery store trip for tomorrow (Sunday), and I wanted to share a little bit about my process.  Keep in mind we are still in Whole 30 mode around here!

I first write out all the days I am planning dinners for and an area for the list at the bottom of the page broken out into different columns for meat, produce, and other.

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I then look at my calendar and see what is going on for the week .  If there is a night Stephen is going to be out of the house then it is not the night for a time intensive dinner.  Monday nights I teach yoga, so I normally do a slow cooker meal.  You get the idea.  After a quick look on Pinterest and mentally flipping through my go to regular meals, I usually jot down the dinners I want to make for the week.

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I then start to fill in the columns with the ingredients needed.

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After this list is done I look through the pantry for other items we need to restock.  Things like brown rice, cereal, olive oil, coconut oil, coffee, larabars, etc. and add them to the list.

When it comes to breakfast, lunches, and snacks, we tend to eat the same things most weeks.  Eggs and greens for breakfast for me, eggs with brown rice for Stephen.  For lunch, I tend to eat left overs, a big salad, or make a quick batch of chicken salad with homemade mayo , while Stephen shops separately and keeps things like frozen vegetables and pre-cooked chicken at his office.  My snacks are almost always Shakeology with homemade almond milk (almonds are on the list EVERY WEEK!) and cashews, fruit, or Whole 30 compliant larabars.

These days, for dinner, we barely order from anywhere or eat out unless it is a special treat.  The more we learn about food, the more we want to cook our own at home.  Plus, due to Stephen’s celiac disease, we are an almost completely gluten free house now, which makes eating out and ordering from anywhere incredibly hard.  By only buying what we need and planning down to the last detail, we have very little waste.  It has saved us a ton of money and makes me feel much better about what we are putting into our bodies!

So there you have it, my well oiled, tested, tried and true meal planning method !

How do you plan meals for the week?  

Do you wing it or are you a big planner like me?

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2 thoughts on “Meal Planning 101

  1. Great article! I never thought about doing the grocery list that way. I end up winging it and then every night scratch my head wondering what I’m going to cook for dinner!! I’m going to try this out…seems pretty simple and hopefully will allow me to stress out less wondering what the heck I’m doing for dinner every night!!

  2. I do something very similar- I break the week in two and plan twice, allowing me to cater our plans to what we have in the fridge. I used to do the same thing with healthy good… I would throw most of it out, then complain about how I didn’t have any food money left. No more!

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