Monday, June 20, 2016

Meal Planning

Ugh... Meal Planning is not one of my favorite topics.  Thoughts of failure and inadequacy fill my mind whenever I begin to think about it.  After almost 15 years of marriage I still struggle with it, but some tools and methods are finally helping me to do a better job.  Trial and error have helped me to determine what works for me and my personality.

I've just finished turning all of my notebook scrawls and lists and charts into a printable set of meal planning tools to help me keep my ideas organized.  It gives me a neat and clean place to keep all of my lists (Listers unite!), so I can remember what works for our family and where I found any recipes I may need.  This really makes the planning process go much more smoothly and quickly.  Since it's nice to share with others, I wanted to give you access to download the pages as I share a little about what's been working for me.  Simply click on the image below to download the PDF file.

It contains a three week meal planning page that focuses on dinner plans with a little space for breakfast, lunch, and snack ideas.  You'll also find pages for lists of dinners your family loves, recipes you'd like to try, and ideas for prepping meals in advance.

My peal planning style has developed over the years as I've learned what keeps me going.  I have a totally different planning style when it comes to breakfast and lunch than when it comes to dinner.  I have found that having a limited supply of basic choices for meals during the day makes life run smoothly.  However, I don't want any list to boss me around for dinner--even if it's one I made.

I'm giving myself a little pep talk here as I buckle down to get back on track for weight loss.  I know what works for me.  It's just a matter of doing it.  For breakfast, I like to throw something in my wonderful super duper skillet to saute along with some eggs.  Although, I do have a few ideas for prepping breakfast on days when we leave the house or for my kiddos.  I like to follow Whole 30/Clean Eating/Meal Prepping Instagrammers for inspiration for simple (but healthy) meals.  They usually make it look so pretty...and yummy!

I do like to full-on prep meals for my lunches in containers for the fridge or freezer.  This works best for my because I never know what my day will look like, and I can grab and go on days that we have to leave the house without thinking too much about it.  Prepping mason jar salads also works well for lunch.  I usually just try to make a batch of a meal or two that I especially like (protein/good carb/veggie) when I can sneak it in and before my stash runs out.  Sprinkle in some left overs here and there, and I've got a plan for lunch.

For dinner, I've found that meal planning every two weeks using a three week planner works best for me.  Sound crazy?  I consider it vision-casting!  I make out the plan for all of the days I know we'll be eating at home for the next three weeks, and I like to try to have all of the main ingredients on hand after I do that.  This gives me the flexibility to switch things up as necessary (or according to my whims) while it frees me from the "What's for dinner?" moment each day.  After two weeks, I look at what we've actually eaten and move any unused recipes to the next three week plan before adding more meals to it.  

The lists are super helpful because I find that my ideas tend to fall out of my head before I can use them with so much going on as a mom and wife.  I also needed to be able to keep track of where I can find the recipes--Pinterest, blogs, on my hard drive, books, etc.  The main way I use Pinterest these days is to collect recipes, but it's difficult to find things with all of the pins I've collected over the years.  I've created two boards to help with this:  Recipes to Try and Regular Recipes.  I'll go through my recent pins and decide on a couple of recipes to try soon.  These get re-pinned to my "to try" board.  If it's a keeper, then it gets moved to "Regular Recipes."  This makes Pinterest easier to navigate for me.

My summer goals always include finding ways to get my systems cleaned-up, so things will run more smoothly when we jump back into our regular fall schedules.  Getting all of my lists in order will help us eat healthier with less scrambling and help our budget out in the process!  Anything that keeps my family out of the Zaxby's drive through is worth it.

If these tools look helpful to you, then click here to download the PDF file. 

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