I am horrendous at meal planning. Every afternoon I find myself in a panic about what I can possibly whip together for dinner. I go to the grocery store almost weekly and spend money on what seems like nothing. I don’t even understand how this is possible. All l I know is that I buy food yet we never have anything to make for dinner. It feels like I am just throwing my money away. I hate wasting food and I really HATE wasting money. Going grocery shopping is becoming something I dread so I knew I had to write this post. (If not for you, then for me!)
I have perused Pinterest for hours looking up how exactly to “do” meal planning. I’ve downloaded meal plans and browsed countless of sample menus. Yet none of this has led me to any solid plan or answers. Yes, the meal plans from other people I have seen are amazing. They are organized and include delicious looking recipes that work for their family. That’s just it though, it works for their families but not for mine. I can look at recipes all day long. What it boils down to is this: my husband will not eat 90% of those meals. Me? Oh I’m not picky when it comes to food. I’ll try anything and adapt it if necessary to be gluten free. My husband however, lets just say his eating habits are equivalent to our 18 month old daughter’s. Read chicken nuggets, pasta, bread, and cheese. He does not eat vegetables. He is a very meat and potatoes kind of man.
This makes meal planning and grocery shopping very challenging for me. I would never even attempt to spend money on blue apron, plated, or one of those other meal services because I know he probably wouldn’t eat any of it. I have gotten him to eat more variety and some (very few) vegetables over the past 6 years that we’ve been together. But as you can see the main food group he eats from (carbs) makes it extremely difficult to follow a generalized meal plan.
What I have really been searching for is HOW to meal plan. I’ve figured out that one of the reasons I am so overwhelmed at even starting a meal plan is because I am looking at meal plans that simply don’t work for my family. I then remain stumped because I am looking at a list thinking- well this looks amazing, but my husband isn’t going to eat this and I’m not going to try all these new recipes. So onward it was to figuring out how to do this by myself in a way that actually works for us.
If you are absolutely stumped and overwhelmed at how exactly to make a meal plan for your family look no further. This is how I am getting started, step by step.
Type a list of all the meals you typically eat
The thought of buying new ingredients and attempting new recipes just in the name of trying to stick to a weekly meal plan overwhelmed me to the point where I was literally paralyzed from trying it at all. Instead, type or write up a list of every meal you can think of that you typically eat. You can organize the meals into categories like meats, pastas, side dishes etc. For me I just left it as simple as possible. The way I wrote the meals is the way my husband will eat them. I did not include any sides for myself like salad or veggies because I’m just talking about the main meal here.
Pick the meals you want to eat
Once I typed up all the meals I had my husband take a look and help me decide which meals we wanted to eat for the week. Then I wrote them down on my weekly planner under the day I wanted to make them. I tried to pick easier meals to make on the days I had to work or knew I would have limited time. My ultimate goal is to have my husband help me pick meals for the week every Saturday. Then on Sunday I can shop and prep so I have less to do during the week. Baby steps right now though. Just writing the meals out is a huge step for me.
Make a shopping list
Next look at the meals you wrote for the week. Since these are your own recipes you shouldn’t have to go out of your way to buy new ingredients or be stumped about what ingredients to buy. You should have a good idea of what quantity of items you will need to make the meals you picked. Write down all the things you need to buy and adapt as you see fit. If you know you want leftovers or an extra meal, buy more of those ingredients. I will also add any vegetable sides to the list that I want. Since my husband won’t eat vegetables I buy a small portion of something extra I want to go with each meal.
Budget for take out
The nice thing about meal planning is that you can decide to cook everyday (or make double of one meal to use as an extra leftover meal that week) or budget in getting a pizza or take out that week.
Since we are renovating our new house right now money is very tight. Part of the reason I wanted to start getting serious about meal planning is because I feel like I am wasting money every week. I buy groceries we end up wasting or I don’t buy things that go together to even make a meal. This is the simplest way I can think of how to make a meal plan. In the future I will probably look again at other people’s meal plans to get new recipe ideas. If you are just starting out skip the overwhelm and stick to what you know. Eventually you can get fancy with it, but since I am just learning how to do this I wanted to keep things as easy and stress free as possible.
Meal planning should not be overwhelming!
Do you meal plan in your house? Do you have any tips? Share below, I’d love to hear about what you do for meals at your home!