Meal Planning Part 3 - How to Meal Plan

Hello!

Thanks for stopping by today for Part 3 of our Meal Planning series!

In the last two weeks, we talked about the reasons to meal plan plus how to get organized for meal planning.

This week, let's chat through the nitty gritty of "how to meal plan".

I have to preface this conversation to say that I am *not* a perfectionist and I like to have a lot of *flexibility* in my meal plans.  After making a tentative meal plan and gathering the ingredients, I often will adjust the meal plan as our week unfolds.  If something comes up on the farm or for off-farm activities, that's okay!  We just adjust our meal plan!  Sometimes we swap the days around and other times, we will create something totally different but try to use those perishable ingredients for other meals.

So let's get started!

Step 1:  Schedule the time.

Start by picking a day each week, or every 2nd week, for restocking your groceries.  If you visit a Farmer's Market or farm store each week, plan around that.  If not, pick a date that that works well in your schedule to pick up groceries.  Once you pick a date that works well, choose a corresponding date to sit down and make your meal plan.

In our life, we plan for grocery shopping on every second Tuesday (which corresponds with the day I make local meat deliveries to Camrose).  I use an online app to order my groceries through, so Sundays are my meal planning day.  I make sure to make my meal plan for the next two weeks and get my online order in by Sunday evening.  Over the course of the two weeks, if we run out of one of our "staples", I make sure to add that item to the online grocery list.

Step 2:  Scan your fridge, freezer, and pantry.

Before deciding what to cook, make sure to take stock of what you've got in your fridge, freezer, and pantry.  You'll especially want to use up anything perishable over the next few days.  Checking what you have (& using them!) will help keep those grocery bills lower.

Step 3:  Sit down & get started.

Grab a calendar or a meal planning sheet or a notebook - somewhere to write down your "plan".  We use our wall calendar that lives right beside the fridge in our kitchen.  It's our go-to spot for everything that happens in our lives - this is the perfect place for us to record our meal plan for two reasons.  1) We can quickly see what activities are happening on each day and 2) the "meal plan" is handy to us in the kitchen as we look ahead to pull out meat to thaw or to prepare the next meal.

Also grab your recipe box, cookbooks, or a device to look up your Pinterest recipe ideas.

And go!  On each date on the calendar or meal plan, write down your plan for your meals.  I encourage you to plan out all your supper meals and to think about your breakfast and lunches as well. 

Make sure to note what's happening on each day of the plan.  For example, if you have activities or meetings, plan around those.  Those might be great days to double cook on the day prior or plan for a simple, quick meal.

Have a look ahead at the weather!  If you've got sunny, hot days ahead, those are great days to cook outside on the grill or to prepare simple meals that don't require the oven to be on for hours.

Make sure to make a note on the calendar if there is a specific recipe you want to make!  That way you can find the recipe again when it's time to make your meal.

As you write down the meal, make sure you record any ingredients you need onto your grocery list!  Don't forget to think about that survey of your fridge, freezer, and pantry so you don't end up buying duplicates of things you already have.

At the end, you'll have a complete grocery list & a meal plan for the week!  And you're off & running, my friend!

Next week, we'll dig deeper into the top tips for successful meal planning!

P.S. If you are here in Alberta, you can order your beef & pork selections right to your door from Lazuli Farms!  Head on over and check out what's available in the online farm store.  A Farm Box subscription is a great way to get a variety fo selections to refill your freezer every month!

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