I kid you not. That was my mentality for a very long time. Why should I meal plan? The kids haven’t starved, yet! Until I had the lightbulb moment, while emptying the fridge of all the expired products (on bin night!), that if I had planned what we were going to eat a little more practically, I might not have had so much waste left.
And so my meal planning journey began, well to word it a bit better, that is when I started to practice meal planning. Which is why I had to have Meal Planning pages in the Ultimate Family Planner.
Not just any meal planner would do though!
Yes, ideally you want to know what you’re having for dinner every night - right? Right, but I believe, to really practice meal planning you need to consider three things.
What you have to work with?
What snacks do you need/want for the week?
What you’re eating for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner each day?
When you get your Ultimate Family Planner you’ll notice that the Meal Planning Pages have three different sections, for you to use each week: Need to use, Snacks and the seven days of the week (with enough room to include one, two or three meals a day).
To be honest, meal planning - or as I like to say - Practising Meal Planning, is such an easy subject to write about. This was going to be a very long and daunting post if I let you have it all at once. You would have looked at the length of it and thought “I want to write a meal plan, not read an essay”
So over the coming weeks, I will be covering in more detail, how I practice meal planning.
Doing it in this way will also give you a chance to think about what you want to get out of your meal planning and allow you the time to make decisions about how you practice meal planning before the next post comes out.
Just think, by the time your Ultimate Family Planner is delivered into your eagerly awaiting hot little hands, you will be an expert!
Today I thought we’d start with, The why’s.
Why meal planning is good!
- I can be more organised – no more will I respond with silence when the Fambam inevitably asks “What’s for Dinner” or screams “Mum!, I’m huuungryyy!” Realistically, for me, that’s enough of a reason to meal plan, end of post….BUT, there are other reasons for meal planning, if nagging kids isn't enough of a reason...
- It will save us money (and time) – I will walk the aisles of the shop with purpose, not meander along wasting time and deciding if I should get this or that only to be distracted by the beautiful SALE stickers. I know what I need, which means in and out, then off to get a coffee. You know, the things that really matter!
- It cuts down on the food wastage – over the last 12 months I have really been looking at mine and my family's carbon footprint and how we can do our part to improve it. It’s only natural that food wastage would eventually be on my list to work on.
For such a long time I was not a planner, more of an “oh crap, it’s nearly dinner time, what can I throw together to satisfy the troops.” Now that I practice meal planning regularly it has really saved my sanity.
Why Practice makes perfect!
The first thing that had to be done was to make meal planning a habit, so practice, practice and practice some more!
It’s a lot like playing a sport, I would guess. In order to be better at it or understand it more, you need to practice. What we want to improve on, in this instance, is our meal planning skills.
Some things will work and some things won't. You will find something that works for months and months and then just when you get complacent… BOOM… you pull a hammy and need to find another way to make it work.
Okay, I'm not a sporty person (clearly), so I don't know if that analogy even works but I hope you’re still with me.
Practice… that is the key to meal planning.
I can honestly say that even if I don’t follow through with the plan, all or some of it, it doesn’t mean that it has been a waste of time…
It's true, bear with me!
Each time that I didn’t follow through, for whatever reason, I did learn something: I learnt what worked, what didn’t work and most importantly why it didn’t work.
Did I use the mince for a different purpose? Did the kids snack out on the celery? (Ha, I wish!) Did I forget that I needed an ingredient for two meals and only bought enough for one? Did I accidentally turn at the wrong corner and end up in the Maccas drive-thru?
All these questions and answers are helping to improve our meal planning skills. If we recognise that we are Practising Meal planning, we will be successful regardless of how many planned meals end up on the table.
Even if Monday brings a shit storm and nothing goes to plan, Tuesday is a new day!
Also, I want you to keep in mind that just because it was written on the menu plan, it doesn’t mean it is set in stone.
If I can cook a bit extra of some of the meals, then we can have them on an unplanned night or if something comes up. The one thing we can always guarantee as Mums is that shit happens and we need to be able to think on our feet. So if the meal plan doesn’t work for today, it’s all good.
To get this conversation started, I would love to know what meal planning practices, have AND have not worked for you? Let’s get ideas from each other. Just because it didn't work for you doesn't mean it won’t work for me and so on.
Remember, we are Practising Meal Planning. You need to change it up and see if there is a technique you excel at.
So that’s it for this week, I will let you marinate on that for a little while (get the pun!) and then next time we are going to go over when and what to meal plan.
THE Ultimate Family Planner