How I approach meal planning

While I was at the cottage, I was the grateful recipient of several hours of uninterrupted TIME! It was the best gift anyone could give–thanks Laurie!!

During one of these precious chunks of time, I sat down and did a meal plan. It took at least two hours, plus editing. And it still isn’t finished. But that doesn’t really matter, because the process of doing the planning is worth almost as much as the the plan that comes out at the end.

How I approached my meal planning

First of all, I decided to do a two-week meal plan. A weekly one seemed too boring, and a whole month was too daunting. Two weeks seemed like enough time to have some variety, and still maintain the ability to wrap my head around it.

Next I listed all the meals that we usually eat. I figured this wasn’t a time to get creative and discover all sorts of new fancy meals. This was about how I could *tweak* our current meals into a more structured plan.

Then I went over the list and wrote down which ones would yield a lunch for my partner (who prefers leftovers and will only submit to bringing a peanut butter and honey sandwich for lunch about once a year). I figured the meals that didn’t make for a lunch worth of leftovers, we could make on Friday and Saturday nights.

I then juggled the meals and wrote them into a two-week block that I sketched out in my notebook. This wasn’t pretty. It also wasn’t easy! I have perfectionist tendancies so it was very difficult to COMMIT to having Mac & cheese every second Wednesday and fish cakes on alternating Fridays. But I think this is the most important part, because once you have a plan, you can work with it (or around it!).

The last aspect was also very important for me. I looked at each meal and wrote down what could be done the night before, and in the afternoon the day of, as well as what the kids could help with. The importance wasn’t in figuring out the actual asks, but in training my mind to look at my meal prep as lasting about 24 hours. Just about everything has something that can be done ahead of time, and that is a true gift I can give myself.

So, my meal planning was a great success. Truth be told, I haven’t actually USED my meal plan since coming home, but I have benefitted enormously from the act of planning and the thinking that I did.

If you find yourself with a couple of hours of free time (I know–ha!), give meal planning a try. Let me know how it goes.

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