Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Meal Planning, Part 3 - How To Implement a System

This post is on implementing a meal planning system. Not the actual details of meal planning...that post is coming soon. But before you can put the meat on, you have to have the bones (anyone catch my food humor?!).
1. Recipes. You have to have recipes that are organized. Here's a post I wrote about organizing recipes. If you don't have your recipes organized, meal planning could get overwhelming. So, the first system you should have under control is your recipes.

2. Which meals? Do you want to plan meals for just dinner? Or add in breakfast and lunch? For years, I just did dinners. While I didn't plan for breakfasts and lunches, I did have a list of meals up where I could see them so I could quickly choose one where I had all the ingredients.

Until I did a self-assessment and realized I was needing to be more organized for breakfasts and lunches. I still keep my list of meal ideas up, but now I plan out my breakfasts and lunches and hang it on my fridge.

3. How often? Some people like to plan on a weekly basis, some bi-weekly, others monthly. I highly recommend monthly planning. Here's why I do it: I don't want to have to plan every week. My life is full enough - I don't have the time to plan meals every week. Monthly planning is great because it helps me save money. If I know I will need chicken for 3 meals, I can be sure to get all the chicken in one grocery stop when it's on sale. It also gives me more flexibility. There have been many times where it's week one of the month and something perishable will go on sale at the grocery store that I have listed the last week of the month. I just swap the meal dates. Or if I've had a particularly difficult day I pick a meal that's easy to make.  

Now, the criticism for monthly meal planning is that you won't be able to shop the grocery store sales because you don't know what's on sale. Not true. More about this point later. Just know that is not an issue when monthly meal planning. 

So, choose what works for you. And before I end this post, let me give you a great tip that relates to life in general:

******Just because something worked for you six months ago, doesn't mean it will for you now. Feel the freedom to change your systems if they are not working for you or if you think something else will work better.******

Next post - Where to Stay Organized. Come back tomorrow to find out some options for storing your meal plans!

Previous posts in this series: 
Meal Planning, Part 1 - Why?
Meal Planning, Part 2 - Self-Assessment


  1. Haven't tried monthly planning, but my weekly planning has disappeared -- maybe that's my goal for December.

  2. Monthly is *so* much easier. Hope you do it!