I enjoy creating systems in life. I swear God did not give me the strong organizational skills that other moms have. Meal times seem like such a struggle sometimes. For some reason dinner in particular stresses me out. I think it is because I worry about not having a variety. If it were up to me, I would plan the same things week after week just because it is easy. I recently came up with a weekly menu system that has been working really well in our house so I thought I would share it in case you are looking for ways to simplify meal planning.
I have been looking for a meal planning system for a while now. Eating healthy, managing a child with food allergies and managing busy schedules can be tough. This is the system I use to manage what we are eating for the week and actually I finally was able to plan well enough so I don’t need to do a big grocery shopping run every week. I personally don’t like to go to the grocery store more than I have to so the less I have to go, the happier I am.
I have loved the Organize Yourself Skinny website for years and I have several favorite recipes from Tammy’s site. I also read her eBook this year in order to better organize my meal planning life. A technique that she uses is a rotating meal plan. I loved the thought of this but I also knew that we needed some variety. I also decided to give the $5 Meal Plan a try this year. Basically, you get a month’s worth of meals planned out for you for $5 per month. I can certainly fit that into our budget as I know that when I prep my meals ahead of time I can save money on food.
My system is a little different than a rotating menu like Tammy uses. I am actually not that strict although I can certainly see how it does help to have it more automated with a rotating menu. My system involves printing out all the meals from the $5 Meal Plan and also having a list of our favorite meals handy. I then go through them before we are set to grocery shop and figure out which meals I want to make for the coming 2 weeks.
For us, breakfast and lunch are pretty easy and honestly, we have a lot of the same types of food for breakfast and lunch. We do a lot of leftovers for lunch or we make tuna or grilled cheese. For breakfast, we either have eggs and toast, oatmeal, smoothies or french toast. Occasionally I will make homemade pancakes, but honestly that isn’t very often. My sister makes pancakes on the weekends, wraps them in plastic wrap individually and then places them in a freezer bag. The kids take them out in the morning and heat them in the microwave and they love it! I have never tried it, but I just know that it works for their family.
So here is what my system looks like:
I have a binder for all of my meal ideas that I keep in my pantry.
I have separations for my $5 Meal plan ideas, my recipes, Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. I also have a section for smoothies. We will make the occasional smoothie and instead of having to track down a recipe on Pinterest, I printed out our favorite smoothie recipes. I love having everything in one spot. It just makes my life so much easier. I keep the binder in the pantry so it is readily available.
I then shuffle through the recipes and write down the meal ideas that sound delicious for the upcoming 2 weeks. I also look ahead to see if we have any special dinners, possible nights out, school events and I look to see if one of us is working as that changes what I will make and how much will be needed.
I usually plan for leftovers as I don’t mind eating leftovers for lunch the next day at all. Greg isn’t a huge fan of leftovers unless it is something he really likes.
I then grocery shop and partial prep my meals according the the Organize Yourself Skinny eBook. I don’t do a lot of full prep meals as I just don’t have time. I will make sure I have plenty of freezer bags before going to the grocery store though as most of the time I am coming home and transferring meat to a freezer bag in order to partial prep it for a meal. I will then label the bag and put the date on it to make sure I use it in a reasonable amount of time.
Meal planning was a big stress for me until I implemented this system. I love having everything at my fingertips and having multiple dinner ideas in one binder. You can start your free 2 week trial of the $5 Meal plan here and you can learn more about the Organize Yourself Skinny eBook here.
Do you have system to plan your meals?
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