Food,  Main

5 step guide to Meal planning

Meal planning – or wing it method? Which one are you?

How many of you get busy with your day only to come to what I call the “witching hour” and try to figure out what you’re going to make for supper?!? First of all….how many people call it supper anymore? 🙂 I think the average person refers to their evening meal as dinner now, but I was raised with Breakfast – Dinner – Supper.  It’s funny because I’ve changed my noontime meal to lunch, it’s just the evening meal has always been supper. Is that a Dutch thing? Ok SQUIRREL!! (I always seem to do that – go one way and then quickly see a “squirrel” and head a different direction!)

witching hour craziness…

Anyway, witching hour…..who of you knows what I mean without needing an explanation?  It’s that time of day – later afternoon – when the kids are home from school, done with their chores and homework and are getting “hangry”.  Even though they’ve had a snack they’re hungry and irritable again! In the midst of that “hangriness” and bickering, I’m suppose to not only figure out WHAT to make for supper but then prepare it too!

Until the last several years that is.  What do you think of when I say Meal Planning?  

  • UGH! Nope….not for me!
  • Never gonna do that!
  • Too much work!
  • Have no clue where to even start!

let me show you it isn’t that difficult!

Meal planning really isn’t that difficult.  It can be as involved and detailed as you make it.  Some people meal plan a month in advance! My schedule changes too much for me to be able to do a monthly meal plan, so I stick to a weekly one after I’ve talked to Greg about our week’s schedule.  

Let me give you a step by step guide to weekly meal planning – try it for 4 weeks and then reevaluate it and see if you like it or need to tweek some things.

Step #1:  Go through your upcoming week’s schedule

For me, Greg and I sit down at some point during the weekend and talk about what’s going on the week ahead.  We compare our calendars and make sure we’re not going to miss an appointment or meeting.

After that, I sit down with my personal calendar and plot out my own schedule for the week.  Some days are busier with Bible studies, meetings, or a lunch out with a friend. If I have a busier day – I plan to haul out my crockpot or put something easy together for that night.  If I have a lighter day, I’ll actually make something more detailed

Step #2:  Visit your local grocery ad online

I usually do this before planning my menu for the week.  If ground beef is on sale, you better believe tacos are probably gonna make the list! 🙂  Whatever is on sale, I try to integrate it into my menu in some shape.

grocery lists….huge time saver!

Let’s talk grocery lists for a second.  Ever baking/cooking something only to find out you’re missing an ingredient or 3?!?!  NOTHING is more frustrating than trying to make supper (during that horrible witching hour to boot!) and then finding out you don’t have something you needed?!?!  Been there….done that…..a gazillion times.

Until I started meal planning actually!!  Part of my meal plan that I have on my fridge every week includes a shopping list.  That way, during the week if I remember something or one of the kids needs something, the list is right there and can be added to it throughout the week.  By the time I sit down, usually on Sunday nights, I have a good list already started when I go through the weekly ad.

I’ll include a free printable of the weekly planner/grocery list that I created at the bottom. 🙂

Step #3:  Plan your menu for the week.

So this is the part that I actually like doing! 🙂  I try to give a variety throughout the week….too many tacos in one week would get REALLY old REALLY fast!  I assign a menu for each day of the week, but to be honest there are several weeks when I don’t stick to that schedule due to change of plans or sickness or something like that.  

I just know that I have everything that I need for the week whenever I choose to make it.  I usually plan 1-2 times of eating out as well (that is one of the things we like to do as a family – whether it’s just Greg and I and the little ones or if the adult kiddos join us – we love going out to different places).  On the weekends, we typically will have pizza and movie night Fridays, and leftovers on Saturdays.

When I need a recipe for a specific meal, I copy it and place it behind my menu planner/grocery list on my fridge.  That way it’s ready to go without me having to look it up and forget where I found a specific recipe.

When I do go through my recipes, sometimes I’ll throw in a few cookies/dessert recipes to try for the week if I feel like baking.  That way – all the recipes I need for the week are in one place.

Step #4:  Plan on some quick meals just in case

I’m sure that your family isn’t much different than ours in that things come up:  appointments get made, someone forgets something at school, someone (and this someone I mean to be ME! :):)) just doesn’t feel like cooking one day, somebody gets sick… other words – life happens.  

To prepare for those days, I always have mainstay ingredients in the pantry or freezer.  That could either be pancake mix to make brupper/supfest (what we call breakfast for supper :)), cheese ravioli that I just need to boil and then add pasta sauce to, and yes…..the preservative/calorie filled Stouffers Mac and Cheese or Lasagna can always be found in our freezer. 🙂

Step #5: Order or pick up groceries  

This is where carside pick up has TRANSFORMED my life!!!  (well, maybe not TRANSFORMED it….but sure made it ALOT more easy for sure!!!)  I admit, I am a very impulsive shopper – with groceries….with anything really – Amazon prime has gotten me into some BIG trouble in the past!! :):)

After I make my list, I place my order and reserve a time to pick it up the next day.  LAAAA!!!!!

game changer…

TRANSFORMATIONAL!!!!!!  No more…..”oh THIS would look great in the back bathroom” – in the cart it goes, or “that looks soooo good!” – in the cart it goes.  You get the idea. (Just to explain, my local grocery store is alot like a Target or Super Walmart where it has everything from food – to fasteners – to fashion.)

So, needless to say, carside pickup has been monumental for my time and my pocketbook! 🙂  It’s worth the $10 for someone else do my shopping for me. 🙂


And there you have it….a 5 step meal planning guide!  Hope you’re able to try this out sometime! I’ll include my free meal planner/grocery list printable here.  Would love to know how y’all do meal planning! Share some ideas you have in the comments below!




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