A couple weeks ago I got an email requesting I write about my meal planning. I had made a comment on another blog, Fimby, about how I plan meals seasonally. Ellen read that comment and wanted to know more. I’ve been thinking about writing about this for awhile and am so humbled that someone I don’t know is interested in how I do things.
I wrote an article about general meal planning for Healthy Montana. Here’s the specifics of how we do it.
I downloaded this meal planning template. It’s super simple and you could easily create your own in Excel, but I didn’t need to reinvent the wheel. Let’s leave that to people with more energy than me.
I decided to plan seasonally, meaning I made four one-month plans. Each month is repeated three times throughout the season. Breakfasts and lunches are pretty standard and I switch them up willy nilly. Oh yes, we are spontaneous eaters at midday. So, that leaves dinners.
I leave one night for leftovers and one night for eating out. We don’t eat out every week, but between getting together with friends and weekends out of town, it’s covered.
I try to mix in new meals and old standards. Fall and winter includes more soups and heavier meals. In spring and summer I’ve included more salads and grilled meals. Seasonal fruits and veggies are part of the plan, too. Some of the meals have been total busts, so I just switch those out. I also repeat our favorites within a month, because who can think of 20 or more different meals?
I double or triple the meals and freeze when appropriate. No sense cooking more than I have to. And I plan trail food for the weekend–homemade granola bars, fig bars etc.
The template also has a place for an ingredient list. On Sunday nights I make the shopping list for the next week.
I put all the monthly plans in a notebook and put the recipes behind each week. That way, anyone can open the binder, know what’s for dinner and have the recipe to make it.
Here’s a week in spring at our house: mealplanSpring1.pdf
It’s a lot of work up front, but it does make things go more smoothly once it’s done.
Now for a little truth-telling. I haven’t used the meal plans since last summer. I don’t know why, I just kind of fell out of it. But I am re-inspired. I am going to fix up the plans from last year and get back on it.
Questions? Want to share your meal planning technique? Leave a comment!