Meal Planning

This week is a busy one so I don’t have any new recipes to try. But I do have something to share that has been helpful. We do monthly meal planning and it has removed a lot of guesswork around mealtime.

I took a Word calendar template, converted it to a Google doc and made it into our planner. Here’s a link to the November calendar. Let me explain the process.

I’ll sit down at the end of the month and duplicate the previous month into a new document. I then go set the days up correctly and delete the previous month’s selections. From there I look at our family calendar coming up and mark out days where we know we aren’t going to cook. Bowling nights, football nights, etc. where half the family isn’t going to be around. We leave those as free-for-all nights and figure out something on the fly.

Once we have a clear calendar, I print it out and leave it on the counter for the kids to fill in. We have 4 kids in the house, so each kid usually gets to pick 3 weekday meals and 1 weekend meal.

Weekday meals are meals that they all like and are generally quick to make. I keep a running list of those meals at the bottom of the calendar so they can get some inspiration.

Weekend meals are either meals that take longer to prepare or meals I want to try out, like a recipe I’ve found.

Once the kids have made their choices, I fill in any gaps, make sure we don’t have any duplicates, then I type in the choices. I print it out and stick it on the calendar and bang, we are set for the month.

There are two main benefits to doing this. One, we can put together a curbside order at HEB on Sunday and our week of grocery shopping is generally taken care of. Two, the kids have a fairly predictable week and seem to like having things like this laid out.

It doesn’t always work. Sometimes things come up and we skip a day. Sometimes we go out to dinner. But in general it’s a great way to get regular about planning. And I swear we spend less on groceries!