I’ve been working in Santa Barbara for the last few days so on this long day of travel home, I have some more meal planning and organizational tips for you. Check out part 1 here! I get started by planning meals. I shoot for some diversity, balanced meals, and I try to be realistic on how long it might take. We like to pack up leftovers for lunch so I typically plan on a meal to serve 4 so the hubbie an I can have it twice.
After thinking about what is going on, what we’re in the mood for I peruse the pantry, fridge and freezer and then make a list.
Step two: grocery list
I keep a running grocery list as I use things up on an app for my phone called grocery IQ. It is one of my favorite apps since we can share the grocery list on both of our phones and I always have my phone when grocery shopping. This ap lets me scan barcodes but usually I’m not so specific as to which brand or size. It categorizes food automatically so you’ll see any produce items you added all together and not be crossing the store a million times. (Nope, Grocery IQ has no idea I exist and did not compensate me to endorse this ap. I just love it after trying a few others.)
I go through my meal plans and the pantry/fridge to see what I need each night for dinner and what might already be in stock. That helps me defrost since I loooove freezing things too. Maybe my freezing tips will be the next tip post!
Step three: implementing dinner plans
Not all plans always go as scheduled. Sometimes the meal is a bust or there’s not enough leftover for lunch. We often pack tomorrow’s lunch right when tonight’s dinner is over to grab and go in the morning. Salads are another typical lunch but get packed in the morning so that means fewer snoozes on the alarm. On an occasional act of preparation, I will get something going in the morning. It usually just means I had a few extra minutes.
Why it works for us:
It wasn’t fair that the dinner plans were always in my head. I’m happy to share them with Mr. J. It also means we’re not running to the store before even getting dinner going. It makes me more conscious about what I’m making and serving at any given time. He’s not asking what we’re having since he can see the week himself. Mr. J knows if he’s in charge of the meal or if I’m having him BBQ something etc. It also helps us figure out the timing if one of us is running and errand after work etc. There’s also something homey feeling to me that the week’s plan isn’t electronic.
When doesn’t it work:
Sometimes we’re still staring into the cabinets trying to think of something to eat that’s quick/easy. Usually we end up with pasta or breakfast item when that’s the case. It doesn’t mean that food is on the table awaiting our arrival. We rely on a commuter train so during a busy time at work, I don’t know when I’ll get home. None of my method is foolproof. I like when something spontaneous comes up since that just means I have the ingredients for a whole other night! I never want to say “no” to a fun plan because there’s chicken defrosting in my fridge.
I don’t usually plan out the weekend meals. Friday tends to be an unofficial take-out & DVR/movie night. I’m most often the shopper because my gym is in the same shopping plaza…what a suburbanite I am now!
I might jazz up the weekly schedule board itself. Our fridge isn’t magnetic so the menu board is also the home to reminders, coupons, save the dates, etc.
I think dinner would seem like a way more daunting task if I didn’t plan ahead and already have the ingredients. Grocery shopping at 7pm while being hungry is a recipe for disaster.
What works for you? Are you a planner? Do you dine spontaneously? Do you make something and eat it for a week?