Meal Planning

I recently posted a status update on my Facebook saying that I was ‘meal planning’-- I never thought such an innocuous comment would spark such and interest from my friends. Newlyweds, friends with kids, and friends without kids all seemed fascinated by this! They all seemed to want to know what my ‘secret’ was. What would guarantee them success.

So, I thought about it.

I am new to meal planning myself, I have often tried in the past (and stuck to it for a week at most) to plan my meals, but I found I lacked inspiration, felt like I was making the same things every week, and was too busy to try something new.

A few things have inspired me to try again, and to make a more diligent effort. One, I desire to be a better, more organized homemaker, and in turn a blessing to my husband. Two, I am learning to live on one income and become more frugal with my cooking (I used to cook whatever I wanted with little thought of the cost of ingredients). Three, it is just easier!

So, here is what I have done:

• I made a ‘Master List’ of meals I know how to make, know my husband likes (I am only cooking for two at the moment as my 9 month old baby’s palate lacks sophistication!).

• I started a file of recipes I have collected (from magazines, the internet and friends) and want to try.

• I then take a sheet of paper, write the days of the week down one side, and the meals I plan to cook, along with any sides (bread, veggies etc.). I make sure to cross of days when I know we are going to be eating out, or my husband will not be home for dinner.

• I make it so that the list is flexible, for example, if Monday says risotto, but it is really hot that day and I don’t want to stand over the stove stirring, I may choose to go with a more simple meal of burritos.

• I try to include one of the meals from the ‘want to try’ pile to keep some variety in my cooking, and expand my master list.

• I am also trying to use my crock pot once a week, this allows me to plan for a day when I know I am busy and may not be home in time to prepare a lavish feast and also helps me use inexpensive cuts of meat.

I have found this has simplified my shopping and helped my budget. I now try only to go to the store once a week with a shopping list written from the meal plan, use coupons and store circulars to buy things on sale and plan my meals accordingly.

By no means is this the definitive meal planning guide, and I have not perfected it yet, but I hope this inspires you and gives you a place to start!

Emma is an aussie pastor's wife living in California with her husband and adorable daughter. She blogs about her family and loves to craft.