meal planning

Happy first day of winter to all my Aussie & Kiwi readers, hope you’re all keeping warm.

In my first Going Paperless post I mentioned that I put a ‘no junk mail’ sign on our letterbox and now go online for any catalogues I do want. This works especially well for meal planning now that I have an iPad.

The Man and I alternate doing the weekly grocery shopping but I’m in charge of planning the meals. Here is my plan of attack:

  • I sit down with the iPad, meal planner, shopping list and my recipe folder on the kitchen table. I usually do this on a Thursday night so I can go out or relax at home on Friday night and still be ready for one of us to do the shopping first thing on Saturday morning.
  • I check out what we’ve already got in the fridge that needs to be eaten within a week and write this down, along with anything in the freezer that we might want to use up.
  • I head online to view the catalogues for our supermarket and butcher and make a note of anything that we regularly buy that’s on special (the greengrocer doesn’t have their specials online but I just try to keep the produce fairly seasonal).

meal planning

  • We really only plan dinners, so on the meal planner (a Chrissy present, available from Kikki-K) I use the ‘Breakfast’ box to write down any activities that will affect meals (e.g. Ryan working late or netball game @7pm). If we going to our parents for dinner or going out with friends we’ll mark it with a dash.
  • From there, I’ll use the recipe folder to try to come up with meals that will use up what we’ve already got, make use of on-sale and seasonal products, fit in with that week’s schedule and are generally fairly balanced and healthy. I often leave one day unplanned as often things come up so we can go out and not worry about having uneaten food (and if we’re home we’ll just pull something out of the freezer or make something from the pantry).
  • I’ll pop them on the meal plannner (using the ‘Snack’ box to make notes such as ‘defrost steak’ or ‘make double batch for freezing’).
  • I then write down all the ingredients needed on the shopping list. (As you can see in the top picture, I have a pre-printed shopping list template that I made myself, in order of where everything is in our local supermarket. Yes, I am a nerd. And yes, I get annoyed when they move things around in the supermarket.)

whiteboard sheets in pantry

My system changed the other day when I stumbled upon a previously unknown-to-me product – adhesive whiteboard sheets (Avery Peel & Stick Dry Erase Sheets to be exact). I’m sure you’re going to tell me they’ve been around for years and I’m the only one who didn’t know about them. Anyway, I immediately snapped up a pack and stuck a couple of them to the inside of our pantry, one for a shopping list and another to keep track of food in the freezer and in particular the fridge that need to be used up, which saves me from having to go through it every week and makes a Pantry Challenge really easy. Mmm, barramundi with chilli jam broccoli sounds pretty good now that I see that…

But back to the meal planning, do you go low-tech, high-tech or a bit of a mix like me? Or do you not even have a system, but just pick up something on your way home from the supermarket or takeaway joint? Or a you a super-organised once-a-month cooker?


7 Responses

  • Wow! That’s so incredibly organised!

  • Cha

    I do it just like you ! We also keep a day for “soup-omelet-leftovers”. We usually go out on Friday so I leave it blank on the planning. I try to plan meals that require time on Sunday (I won’t use 2h of my time to make lasagna on a weekday).
    Try to keep your plannings in a folder, so you can re-use them next year during the same season (hey you eat cake every year for your birthday, why not chicken salad every 4th of June !?). Plus you’ll see how your diet changed (there are recipes you do a lot then you forget, this helps to bring them back).

    • I do the same and plan a more time-consuming meal on the weekend, although we do it on a Saturday if we are home. Sundays are our lazy night on the couch (usuall eggs or toasted sandwiches). Interesting idea about keeping the plans, I never thought to do that, although in our case I think it would be kind of depressing – we used to eat much better because we had more time and a bigger grocery budget.

  • I try to plan weekly, too, because I hate reaching dinner time after work and trying to figure out what to make while I’m hungry! At this time of year, I frequently plan Tuesday-Monday rather than a work week because we have a nearby Farmer’s Market Tuesday mornings and I go pick up food for the week there. So my produce is also seasonal, as much as possible. We typically eat dinner with my parents on Sundays and then I also leave one night unplanned in case something unexpected comes up, or meals need to get switched around. So I usually buy for 5 days. I keep track of our meals on the chalkboard in our kitchen. You can check it out here:

    • Sounds like a great plan, Katherine, especially the farmers market. Thanks for sharing, your meals look DELISH!

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