Recently there was some discussion about meal planning in one of the fantastic FB groups I’m in. One member had designed a lovely sheet for meal planning. I got to thinking about my experience with meal planning and realized that a cute planner only solves part of the problem.
Have you spent more than enough time grocery shopping? Give yourself permission to make a change.
In my experience and observation, society teaches us that a woman’s time is not valuable and actions a woman takes to free up time, for herself, are the height of selfishness. This is one of the reasons why we have difficulty developing efficiencies for ourselves. In my case, this was compounded by my marriage to a Narcissist. We separated and I gradually learned that the way things had been was not the way they should continue. I enrolled in a Masters program in Professional and Applied Ethics. I was excited and terrified! It was supposed to be part time but I was sure it would take full-time hours (it did and then some!). I looked for ways to be more efficient with my time doing chores. Money was also tight so spending wisely was important. I would spend time nearly everyday grocery shopping. I decided I wanted to spend time with my boys, on my thesis and have time for me. I had spent enough time shopping.
I decided I wanted to spend time with my boys, on my thesis and have time for me. I had spent enough time shopping. Click To Tweet
Huge changes in my life! Time for some efficiency with Meal Planning.
I enrolled in a Masters program in Professional and Applied Ethics. I was excited and terrified! It was supposed to be part-time but I was sure it would take full-time hours (it did and then some!). I looked for ways to be more efficient with my time doing chores. Money was also tight so spending wisely was important. I would spend time nearly everyday grocery shopping. I decided I wanted to spend time with my boys, the pets, on my thesis and have time for me. I had spent enough time shopping.
In the past, I had shopped with a vague idea about what we would eat for a week but invariably when it got to preparation time I would not have a plan with meat thawed out or would be missing half the ingredients. This meant a rush trip to the store. Almost without exception, I would end up in the slowest line behind the person who had to fish their change out of their coin purse one coin at a time. Not the way to foster a beneficial mindset.
There was a lot of food that sat in the freezer and pantry because there wasn’t a plan for it. I was also very bad at “shopping my food storage”. Rather than finding out what I had, I tended to forget what was there and planned my shopping from scratch each week. I was wasting so much time running to the store and standing under the bright fluorescent lights which can trigger migraines that I was not happy. There had to be a better way. I’m in Graduate school dammit! I’m supposed to be smart. Right? Figure it out girl!
At first, I started with a meal plan. I had a master list of meals on little post-it notes and picked from them for the week. The problem was I could not rely on my memory to make up the shopping list. Vital items ended up not getting bought. The post-it notes also showed wear pretty quickly. They got all bent and lost their stickiness.
Try, Try, Again!
The next iteration was to make up the week’s meal plan using a printable meal planner I found on the Web, then find the recipes. This meant gathering up cookbooks, Cook’s Illustrated magazines, and my iPad for searching the internet. Scrolling through the books and magazines was not at all efficient. More than half the time I couldn’t remember which book or magazine a recipe was in.
Next, I tried keeping recipes in Evernote. As it turned out, Evernote and I do not get along- not for my thesis and not for recipes. I wasted a lot of time finding and re-finding my recipes. I found that more and more I was referring to my “Yum!!” board in Pinterest.
I began seriously collecting recipes to my board in Pinterest. These boards are part of my personal account, not Modern Gillie, at the moment. Nearly every recipe I had in paper form was available on the Web and could be saved to the board. I can scroll through the recipes looking at the pictures and it’s a quick click to get the ingredients. Often the ingredients are in the Pin, which is even better. If I don’t have what I’m looking for on my board, the Pinterest search is usually efficient. I remove recipes that I don’t like so I am sure that all the ones I have are tasty and usable.
The “Yum!” board eventually became unwieldy so I split it into Yum – breakfast (especially waffles) board, Yum-Sweet board with the original board being mostly dinner recipes. I have curated a nice collection of dinners, sweet stuffs, and breakfasts. I expect other splits to happen soon with a meatless meals board appearing.
It takes about 30-45, usually pleasant, minutes one evening a week. I don’t use a paper meal planner anymore. I do my rough drafts using the notepads delivered from our many local real estate agents and a shopping app on my iPhone. I use ShopShop. It is very basic and easy to use. My son uses a different one and finds it very good. There are many free ones available from the App store. Try out several until you find the one that works for you. When I prepare the coming week’s list I have the current one handy to keep duplications down.
I put the meals on one sheet, in pencil, and the ingredients I need into the shopping app. When I am done I rewrite the meal plan onto one of the nifty dividers that goes with my Arc planner and place it on the rings.
I use a fountain pen this time, because fountain pens with gorgeous ink are one of my guilty pleasures.
The shopping app allows me to rearrange my list according to the store layout so my shopping trip is also more efficient.
The Staples Arc planners are available at Staples and can be found on Amazon.
I no longer assign a meal to a particular day because my international students are quite busy and it’s easier to be flexible. Knowing I have everything I need is very satisfying and getting things out to thaw is much easier to remember. these days I hit the grocery store once a week and Costco once every two or three weeks. My grocery bill, with myself and two teenage boys dining, is easily 50% less than when I began this journey with myself and my youngest son being the two people I was shopping for. As I said earlier I have tried several printable planner pages. The ones that worked best for me were those that were like bookmarks and could sit in the middle of my week on 2 pages Filofax.
Printable Planner Pages for Meal Planning
As I said earlier, I have tried several printable planner pages. The ones that worked best for me were those that were like bookmarks and could sit in the middle of my week on 2 pages Filofax. Two of the clever printable creators have given me permission to use their pictures and of course, you can go to their sites and print these for yourselves.
Monika Wright has one designed for a Filofax, but it can work with any planner. For the Arc planner, I use my “hole” punch so it fits the rings.
Click HERE to go to Monika’s page.
For you Happy Planner lovers, Amber Downs has a simple, elegant design with bonus recipe cards. Check out what she does with them. Click HERE to go to Amber’s page.
I hope you have found this helpful. I encourage you to use this a jumping off point to develop a system that works for you. You deserve to have time for you!
I will continue to work on more uses for Pinterest. I think I have only scratched the surface. Don’t forget to subscribe for updates.