Have you ever wondered how those superwives plan out every meal?
Have you ever thought to yourself, “Gee, it would be so nice to be all organized and know what we’re having for dinner?”
Sheesh, me too.
It’s a good thing I met a superwife and convinced her to give me all her secrets.
Meet Natalie. She’s awesome. And I want to be just like her.
Natalie is my real life friend and partner in crime when it’s pina colada time. She also lives on the island of Grenada like me and takes care of her sweet hubby Jade, who is in the same year of med school as my hubs.
The first time I went over to Natalie’s apartment, not only did she make me some ridiculously awesome popcorn, but I saw a curious sight: a perfectly organized food calendar. And, when I prompted her, she shared the neatest, most perfect little box of recipes.
“Put that away!” I told her. Don’t let the hubs see it, lest he find out what he’s missing out on.
Still, I’m always in awe of Natalie – the way she carries herself, how she always goes to the grocery store on Fridays, and how she doesn’t mind spending an entire day with me and my little sewing machine as we try to whip up something awesome.
So, without further ado, here are Natalie’s tips on keeping your meal planning organized. Check out the bottom of the post for links to her fabulous blog.
You’ve probably read handfuls of tips on organizing your life, and you’ve likely mastered several of them. Way to go! If your meal planning and grocery shopping habits could benefit from a little organization, I hope to offer some more tips you can utilize.
First, you need to decide what is important to you. Are you simply trying to cut your grocery budget? Do you find that a lot of your food goes to waste? Are you trying to eat healthier? Are you trying to save time during the work week? All of these things can be achieved simultaneously by organizing the way you meal plan, but you can also focus on what means the most to you.
I want to cut my grocery budget! You’ve surely heard this before, but that’s because it’s absolutely true. Don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry; you’re more likely to impulse buy. You also have to tackle the grocery store with a game plan. Don’t go without a list and make sure you stick to it. I find it helpful to write my list in the order I’ll grab the items. For example, I enter my grocery store and find produce immediately to the left, which is where I start. The first items on my grocery list are all produce. I work my way to the opposite side of the store and my list corresponds. Finally, make sure you know what items you already have in your house by glancing through your pantry, cupboards, fridge and freezer before you head to the store. It’s always annoying to come home with a carton of milk to find you already had one shoved in the back of your refrigerator. Read on for tips on making your grocery list.
My food goes bad before I eat it! This comes down to planning ahead. Pick a day to be your meal planning/grocery shopping day. For me that day is Friday. I sit down with my computer, recipe box and cookbooks to pick out a recipe for each night, Friday through Thursday. I then write each meal on my handy dandy dinner board to help me remember what I planned on. This also keeps my husband from asking three times a day, “What are we having for dinner again?” Use those recipes to write your grocery list. If you stick to what you’ll definitely be cooking with that week, you’re less likely to buy excess food that could go bad on you.
I want to eat healthier! If you’re having a hard time eating well because you go into the grocery store without a plan and come out with mostly junk, employ the tips I mentioned above. You can also plan for healthier meals by searching out the healthy recipes. It comes down to educating yourself on topics like how to read food labels and how to practice moderation. Some of my favorite resources are Hungry Girl, Shrinking Kitchen, and Skinny Taste. Pinning recipes is my absolute favorite use of Pinterest and All Recipesis another great fall back. Finally, have a plan for eating out. It’s fun and nice to do sometimes, but your wallet and waistline will likely thank you for cooking for yourself. Meals at a restaurant or ordering take out twice a month might be a good place to start.
I don’t have time during the week to plan a good meal! No one wants to get off work at 5:00 just to go home to a hungry household and have to start meal planning then. You might resort to take out or throwing something together that is less than a balanced meal. With some forethought on the weekend you can save yourself major time, and even money, when you get off work during the week. When you’re setting aside your recipes for the week and writing them on your menu board, pull out your calendar at the same time. If on Tuesday you have a meeting that is likely to run late, plan a slow cooker or crock-pot meal that will be ready when you get home. If on Wednesday everyone is going to be home later than usual, plan a relatively simple meal so that you aren’t sitting down to eat at 9:00. Likewise, if someone will be there to help in the kitchen, plan a more involved meal that you might not normally be able to do alone.
To make finding recipes even faster, why not have them come to you? Both Hungry Girl and ShrinkingKitchen allow you to subscribe to have healthy recipes sent to your inbox. Shrinking Kitchen will even break down a grocery shopping list for you. It doesn’t get any easier than that!
As you can see, not all of these tips are for every person, but used all together they can lead to a positive lifestyle change. Many of the above tips are related and can help you achieve multiple things. One big meal planning session once a week can save you money at the store, time during the week and lead to a healthier diet. I encourage you to try some of these tips out and let me know what you think.
Do you have any other tips for meal planning and grocery shopping?
Natalie Bergstrom-King is the author of the blog The Kings are Konquering Grenada, where she chronicles her adventures adapting to life in a foreign country. Follow her on pinterest here.
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