05 June 2014

Meal Planning Made Easy (er) - Part 1

It's officially summer friends, and that means I can't use the "I've been too busy to meal-plan" excuse. So...I'm meal planning. I hate grocery shopping, and while I like having a finished meal plan, I do not like to actually make the plan. Mostly, I think I haven't found something that works for me as far as actually writing down the menu, what I need, and so on. It just becomes a jumbled mess.

As jumbled as it sometimes can be, meal planning is a great way to save money and eat healthier. So, I forge on!

Part of the jumbled mess issue stems from the Mr. having a work schedule that changes from week-to-week. I plan for something on the grill, and he gets home late. I plan for leftovers, and he is off. It just wasn't working as far as coordinating a menu and his schedule. So, when I decided to create my own planning page, I started with included a spot to write in the Mr.'s work schedule. Can I just say, that I think that made all the difference?!?!

Here's what a completed 7-day menu looked like for us:
No, not every single square is filled in for breakfast and lunch. Mostly, I needed it to be a little more flexible than that. Normally, lunches consist of leftovers, a sandwich, some fruit, a turkey roll-up...whatever is on hand. I don't really know which days will have what leftovers available, so I just wrote in what I knew.

Also, I know this starts on a Saturday - the Mr.'s work week starts on Saturdays so it was just easiest to start the menu then. You'll notice the Mr.'s schedule underneath each day of the week. 

So what made this menu/meal plan easier than others I tried? I started with True Life I'm a Teacher's Wife's (HA - any other husbands out there need a support group?) work schedule. Then, I started plugging in dinners where I knew they'd work best. For example, I'll need Mr. to run the grill for the burgers, so I put those on a day when he was off. Also, on night's when he is closing, or won't be home for dinner, I don't ever plan on making dinner that night. It's an easy night for leftovers. 

You'll notice I put page numbers next to recipes that came from a cookbook. It just makes it easier to find my recipe when I'm actually ready to start dinner, if it's already on the menu. I don't have to think about. I'm all about not thinking in the summer :) Speaking of cookbook - these recipes come from The Daniel Plan Cookbook. Yummy recipes that are healthy, but easy to make - normal ingredients if you know what I mean. Also, many of the recipes are either gluten free, dairy free, or both - or can be modified to be so.

So, ready to meal plan your way through summer? If you prefer to handwrite your menu, you can download a PDF version here, or by clicking on one of the pictures below. If you'd like to type them, like I did, you can download a PowerPoint version (simply add a text box where you'd like to add text) here.

Here's one with a place to put someone's schedule (like I did).
 Or, use this one if you don't need a place to write a schedule.

In part two, I'll be sharing some super easy tips on what to do with your food once you go grocery shopping! Umm, what? You mean, I'm not just supposed to shove it in the fridge?

Happy Summer, Eating, and Planning!

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