Why and How I Meal Plan

We all know that life can be a little chaotic. Okay, maybe not just a little, but a lot! And if you’re anything like me, chaos can throw you for a loop. Meal prep and planning is one of those things that, in 10 minutes time, I can create a little bit of normalcy to what can be a hectic week of clashing schedules, overflowing to-do lists and the always unforeseen circumstance.

Some people ask why I plan our dinners out for the week and how I manage to only go to the grocery once. My answer is always because I simply don’t know any different. I grew up with a mom who spent every Sunday morning at the breakfast table planning our meals for the week. Some meals were cooked on Sunday and just reheated during the week, and some were made on the weeknight. It was always consistent with our schedules, but it was truly what I grew up thinking everyone did.

So when my husband, Evan, and I moved in together a little over two years ago, we made an agreement: I would worry about the groceries, meal planning/ prep and other various household items, if he would stay on top of our bill payments and budgeting. Essentially, I make sure the man is fed and he makes sure we have a bed and running water. So far, I’d say it’s worked out pretty well for the two of us.

I spend every Wednesday planning our meals for the week, beginning with the next Saturday to the following Thursday, leaving Friday to Chinese takeout. I typically plan around the weekly grocery circular and try to buy as much on sale as possible. This can really be a dollar saver but may also prompt a little creativity and sometimes a good Google search for recipe ideas. I then fill out a Google Sheet, which is basically a spreadsheet application you can use in Google. This sheet helps me organize meals by day, and I then fill in the appropriate grocery items that need to be picked up. For me, it’s easiest to go day by day and then fill in the ingredients per recipe rather than going back and filling in my grocery list after the fact.

Once complete, I try to print it out and keep as a reference throughout the week although sometimes I forget and simply rewrite everything before my weekly Saturday morning grocery trip. My goal isn’t perfection…just as good as I can get it.

While this process may seem a little crazy, or a little too organized perhaps, consider the benefits. Staying organized, focused and prepared helps me ensure that my family is eating a well-balanced meal, and prevents multiple trips to the grocery store throughout the work week (which can not only be tiresome, but pretty pricey!).

To see more info on my menu and meal planning guides, as well as other fun how-to’s, please visit my blog: sarafromscratch.wordpress.com.