Bonjour Organize & Refine Your Home Challenge tribe members! If you’ve been keeping up with this month’s assignments, your home is probably running like a well-oiled machine by now!
To review, this is what we’ve tackled during Routines Month:
But don’t rest on your laurels JUST YET. There’s one more household routine for us to address – your meal planning routine.
A few years back, my meal planning routine was non-existent, and it was a huge problem in my household. This lack of planning caused A LOT of daily stress (around 4:00 p.m. when everyone would ask, “What’s for dinner?” Cue the crickets).
Too many times, I’d throw my hands up and order takeout, or we’d end up going out to eat.
Meal planning was such a challenge for me that it became my #1 organizing priority.
I’m not gonna lie.
It was a new habit that took a bit of time to cultivate, and I stumbled a few times along the journey. I’m happy to report that all of the effort required to develop this new weekly habit has paid off in spades!
Meal planning is now a well-ingrained routine that I’ve incorporated into my weekly planning session. And I can’t begin to describe how liberating it feels!
I’m even more thankful to have this routine firmly in place when back-to-school season rolls around each year. There are SO MANY moving parts to keep track of in our household during this key transition time. We really don’t need to fret about what’s for dinner each night.
WHAT WILL YOUR MEAL PLANNING ROUTINE LOOK LIKE?
Meal planning doesn’t have to be complicated.
Step 1 – Create a Meal “Master List”
I found it helpful to begin by gathering my family together for a brainstorming session in order to create a master list of possible dinner options. You can use my Family Dinner Options printable to create your master list, then laminate it and keep it in your household binder to refer to each week. This step was crucial because one of the main obstacles I faced in previous meal planning attempts was my inability to generate meal ideas on the spot.
Step 2 – Pick a Planning Time & Map Out Your Menu Plan
The next step in the process is to decide on a consistent time each week to plan out your meals for the following week, AND to shop for any ingredients that you’ll need to purchase. As I already mentioned, Sunday is planning day in my house. We incorporate meal planning into this weekly planning session.
While planning the menu for the upcoming week, I take a peek at what we have on hand in the pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Obviously, it’s smart to plan meals based on what we already have in our food inventories, so that we can minimize what we’re spending each week at the grocery store.
I created a simple weekly meal planner printable to make this whole process easier…and more pretty. Because pretty is good.
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To save trees, I use my trusty laminator with this printable to create a reusable dry erase meal planning worksheet. Once I’ve filled in the blanks for the coming week, I store the worksheet in a prominent area (a kitchen door organizer that’s part of our household command center) where everyone can view it.
You can get both of these printables by downloading my free Printable Meal Planning Kit.
Step 3 – Schedule and Execute Grocery Shopping Trip
Depending on what we’ve got going on, I’ll tackle any necessary grocery shopping on Sunday or Monday. Instead of taking the worksheet with me (and risk smudging all of that gorgeous dry erase penmanship), I snap a picture of the grocery list with my phone and use that for reference at the grocery store.
Oh, and don’t forget to take your coupon binder along!
Step 4 – Daily Meal Prep
Another stumbling block I’d frequently encounter in past (failed) meal planning attempts was forgetting to execute any early-in-the-day prep work that the evening’s meal required. You know. Things like taking the meat out of the freezer so that it had adequate time to thaw. Or actually turning the slow cooker on before leaving the house for the day.
In order to overcome this hurdle, I’ve included one extra step in the meal planning routine, which includes noting what’s for dinner on my daily docket (completing my Daily Docket is a step in my evening routine). Since I glance at my Daily Docket first thing every morning, this visual cue serves as a reminder to complete any necessary morning meal prep for that day.
It works like a charm for me!
ESTABLISHING A MEAL PLANNING ROUTINE ASSIGNMENT:
- Create a Master Meal List
- Pick a consistent weekly meal planning and grocery shopping time
- Take inventory of your food and map out a weekly meal plan centered around the food that you have on hand
- Create a daily system that reminds you to complete any early-day prep work required for that evening’s dinner
Take a pic of you in action completing your meal planning routine and post on Instagram (use the hashtag #OrganizeandRefineChallenge and don’t forget to tag me) or share your routine in the comments below.
If you haven’t already, now’s the time to tackle the other key household routines:
This post is part of the Organize and Refine Your Home Challenge