Guide to Meal Planning

Some of my favorite blog posts to read are guides to mundane daily or weekly routines. I also love the classic "grocery haul" post or "what's in my fridge" post. As my mom likes to say, I'm really nosy. Sometimes these guides provide a little inspiration for a new healthy snack or how to improve part of my day, and sometimes I just find them fascinating. 

In the spirit of sharing instead of stalking other blogs, I'm giving insight into how I meal plan for a week. While I've always been a big planner, meal planning was a skill that I developed after I got married. As a single gal, I could happily survive on cereal or a hodgepodge of leftovers for dinner every night. Now I'm responsible for feeding another human, and during our first few months of marriage, I was really bad at it. I definitely underestimated the amount of food we would eat, and Jay was HUNGRY. 

 
 

For the most part, I try to prepare healthy dinners and allow for leftovers for lunch the next day, so many of my recipes make four servings instead of two. Sometimes I plan to make a dessert or snack that we can eat for a few days. Around mid-week, I start casually thinking about dinner for next week, and I keep a post-it note in my planner that I use to jot down dinner ideas. I also try to get a sense of whether we have any upcoming meals out or if one or both of us has a busy night. For example, Tuesdays are frequently busy for us so, I'll try to make something on Monday that would be easy to reheat for leftovers or plan a 20-minute prep meal. 

 
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I normally go to the grocery story early Saturday or Sunday morning, depending on our weekend plans. Before I head out, I finalize what I want to make each night. Sometimes, it takes me 5 minutes to think about what I'd like to make, and sometimes it requires a bit more inspirations. I'll frequently pull out some favorite cookbooks and recipe cards or I'll peruse Pinterest for ideas.

Once I have my meals finalized, I'll make my final grocery list. I start by adding our weekly staples that we eat for breakfast, lunch, and snacks. We go through things like oats, almonds, milk, fruit, greens, tea, etc. Then I add in the ingredients I'll need for dinner. I typically use a large sheet of lined notebook paper for this list and make a column for produce, meat, canned/packaged foods, and refrigerated/frozen food. This makes it easier to follow my list in a logical order as I walk through the store. 

While it probably takes about 30 minutes of cumulative prep work throughout the week before actually making it to the grocery store, I love meal planning! I don't have to run to the grocery every couple of days to pick up something, and it takes the guesswork out of dinner, which is the last thing I want to do after being at work all day! 

What are your tips and tricks when it comes to meal planning?