I often get DM's or questions on meal planning and prep. Actually it's one of my first projects I work on with clients when they are looking to streamline or organize their day better. Because the truth is meal planning can really be the solution to a lot of things. It helps with better eating habits, last minute meals, less stress on your day and even budgeting. Which is why almost every Friday morning I sit down, look at our calendar for the weekend/week and make a plan on what we will eat that week. I will preface this with the fact that most of the time I don't cook for the whole week at once. It just doesn't work for our tiny fridge but that can be super helpful if you don't have time to cook during the week.
First up, I pull out my agenda and family calendar. I am sharing a rough draft of ours below. This way I can see what we have scheduled, mainly to be able to pinpoint what days are busier and what days I have a little extra time.
This weekend we have family photos so hoping for a slow breakfast (hubby on waffle duty!) and time to get everyone (including me ready).
Sunday I'll need some fun appetizers and a slow cooked meal (last week I made my slow cooked wings with guac, nachos, broccoli & cuke salad!)
The girls are off Monday and O'Neal is away so something I can toss in the Instant Pot or make in the morning before our day starts or maybe it's just our weekly pasta day (we are loving this chickpea one! tip: cook this pasta for longer than regular and then rinse with cold water to get the perfect texture!)
Tuesday, hubby is still away but we have a relatively easy day. Swim in AM for Amani and then at 4:30 for Zoe. I usually stick to some type of taco day. Lot's of shredded veggies, these tortilla bowls, avocados, salsa with tortilla chips. *tip:make the protein ahead of time and cut up the veggies (I usually do this before Ami goes to swim but the night before would also work or use a rotisserie chicken!) and set up buffet style for the girls after Z's swim lesson.
Wednesday is crazy: dance + a sitter for Ami/volunteering + parent teacher conferences. I pack both girls a lunch in the AM so that Ami can eat on the way home from dance, and pick a fun dinner that the night time sitter can heat up for the girls while we are at parent teacher conference (will have to prep that morning before dance).
Thursday is a half day so I'll have to think of lunch, and a playdate means I'll grab extra fruit, put out an activity or maybe bake! Dinner can be something I make while the girls are entertained with friends.
Friday is usually something we can make together, like homemade pizza! Either way if we don't have a playdate/activity I try and make dinner (leave ordering out to the weekends!)
Third, I take a look at the pantry, clean out the fridge and organize it (this lets me know what we have run out of or what we need to use or freeze ASAP before it goes bad.
And lastly, now that I know my schedule and where I have extra or less time, I'll skim through Pinterest for Fall meals (here is a roundup) and write out a dinner menu, snack & lunches for the week.
I'll plan around things we already have and I order what I need for the week, restock any pantry/fridge/freezer staples. Amazon Fresh & Prime Now are a life saver for this mama, and I end up sticking to the list a whole lot better than when I am at the market.
**Tip: I find that by posting my dinner menu, snack & lunch ideas on my fridge less food goes to waste and I am not scurrying through trying to figure out what to eat or pack.
Sticking exactly to the plan doesn't always work, like for example tonight I am switching up what I had planned to our favorite chicken soup, which happens to be my sick little Ami's fav. I'll toss in noodles or rice to make it heartier for the rest of us and freeze a couple mason jars filled with it to have on hand.
All that to say, be flexible, it' ok to switch up when you are having the meal or tweak the actual menu but the more you get use to meal planning the easier this will be.
One day I'll put together a post on how I've transformed a hall coat closet into a pantry + pantry staples we always have on hand and the meals we make with them. It's on the list, I swear!!
Hopefully this helps you get started with next weeks meal planning and let you feel a little less lost on whats for dinner. Plus maybe just maybe you'll save on the grocery bill + waste less.
PS Email me if you'd like me to send you a blank menu template to fill out!