Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Beckee's Deal on Meal Planning

I am a check list person. And I am kind of old school mixed with modern. I like to use apps and my phone for just about everything, but I still write out a lot of my lists and things by hand.

Here are my steps to Meal planning (for our dinners):
  1. Research 
  2. List Ideas
  3. Choose weekly dinners
  4. Compare recipes to my pantry
  5. Make Grocery shopping list
  6. Shop
  7. Try my best to stick to it!!
And to get a bit more specific:

1. Research: I love Cookbooks. 

I even wrote one when I was pregnant with my third child. (Someday soon I hope to do another one!)

When I research, I think about the tried and true meals we love as a family mixed in with new meals from my plethora of cookbooks (or from Internet searches). As I am doing me research, I do step 2:

2. List Ideas

The pencil I wrote in is hard to see in the picture above, so I will tell you that it is the list I made on Sunday (as I researched) of all the meals that looked good to me from my "regular" meals, from ids ideas, and from my cookbooks. (That is the top half of the page anyway). As you can see, it is a long list (about 30-40 possible dinners). I only need 7 for this week, but having a lot of ideas from steps 1 & 2 means I won't need to redo these steps again for a while. Yeah!

3. Choose Weekly Meals

Sometimes this is the hardest part. I have 5 kids that each take turns being extra picky and they all have their favorites. Also, my husband and I really try to eat healthy, which is not the favorite meals for the kids. Plus I have had to remove (or severely reduce) some things that we all love from my diet over the past couple years (most notably cheese and greasy foods). Sad. This all makes the meal picking part  really hard. But with all the ideas from the first couple steps, I choose what I want (with the next step already in my mind, meaning that I try to plan somewhat based on what I already have and can use).

4. Compare Recipes to my Pantry

OK. So once I pick meals, then I get out the recipes. I check through my pantry and freezer and see what ingredients I already have then I move to step 5:

5. Make Grocery Shopping List

Again, the pencil is a little light on that picture above, but this page shows how I organize the first step of my grocery list. On the left side of the page I listed the meals I planned for the week. Then I pull out each recipe and (with my pantry check already done and in my mind), I write the items I need to purchase in the column on the right and a small reminder list of what I already have on the far left. Usually I try to plan and shop for a full week at a time, but one of the items I chose this week for Friday had some ingredients that I have to get a a specific store (it is a Filipino meal). And I want fresh produce for that meal. So, I chose to only shop for the meals through Thursday. I will get the rest on Thursday while the kids are at school.

After I made the pencil and paper list, I wanted a more organized list. For that, I use a great app called "Out Of Milk"  (I have tried lots of apps for this and this one is the one I like) With this app, you can enter your grocery items and it will organize them by section of the store into a check list. Once you get the item, you just check it off and it moves the item. I took a screenshot of yesterdays list with some items still listed in their category and others checked off so you can see it:

This app has WAY more useful things than this list too. Check out all you can do with it:

I love this app. Get it. Try it out. (No, they did not pay me for this...if fact I have no affiliation with them at all. I just like and use it)

6. Shop

If choosing the meals is the hardest part, then this is the next hardest step, because it is SOOO tempting to buy more that you planned to. I love food. I love shopping, so this can be a pitfall. But I try to keep in mind the goal, which is to save money, and that helps me to really stick (mostly) to the list I made! AND I only take my phone with my Out of Milk app open into the store with me. None of the other lists or ideas. JUST that list I made in that app. It helps me to stick to the list and to focus on the goal. Which brings us to my last step...

7. Try to Stick to it

By this I don't JUST mean to stick to the grocery shopping list. I also mean try to stick to the meal plan you made. I know things will come up and you may not perfectly stick to your plan, but try. I often say that all I can do is my best, and sometimes that means I stick to the weekly plan, and sometimes it means we eat out a few times on really rough weeks. I am really trying to meal plan and stick to my goal. I am on day 2 of the plan and so far so good. I will share this week's plan in the next post. Maybe it will inspire some ideas for one of you!