Meal Plan with Me + Meal Planning Tips
Today I'm letting you behind-the-scenes of my husband and I's meal planning process. This is a longer video because I made it with the intention of allowing you to work alongside us in real time. However, you can watch it in double time or just skip to the next step in our process using the time markers I listed in the description. I do leave some tips along the way partially for your entertainment, and also because I think they are valuable tips that will really help you in your meal planning process. One other thing. I chose not to include music in this video because of the length, but if you like music to accompany your meal planning like I do, I've actually linked a playlist in the description with some of my favorites and you can play it in the background while we plan together.
All-right let's get started! So we plan for the month and then revise once a week. So right now we are actually planning for the month ahead, and it is the "longer" of the sets.
Step 1: Pick One Staple Meal for Each Week The first step is a quick one- we are picking our staple meals, one per week. Staple meals are meals that we both enjoy and look forward to. We do this so that we both know that there is a tried and true favorite that we can look forward to each week. We keep our list of staple options very small so that there is less to decide. By the way, this is the exact process I teach my clients too, but of course, every family has their own unique style and preferences. Step 2: Select Your Meals for Each Day All right so step number two is choosing the meals on which days. Staples go in first of course, and then we just fill out the rest. To make this super quick, we're actually using a tool I developed for my clients that allows you to just click and drop meals in a calendar. It's super handy because the meals are linked to your recipes and there's even a grocery list on there too if you like making lists. All of our recipes are digital and it makes finding and keeping recipes a breeze instead of digging through Pinterest or cookbooks. I love that my husband is a team player in this process, but you can totally do it on your own as well. We like to split up the job. In this video, you'll see that he is on the computer plugging the meals into the meal planning tool that I created. What I am doing is I'm typing those meals into our shared online calendar, as well as checking for any calendar conflicts. I'll also set up reminders of what needs to be taken out of the freezer in time to thaw as well, so we don't have to remember that too. So like I said earlier, this the "longer" part of the process. When we filmed this, we had just come back from a long and tiring vacation and then played a music gig that day. So we were both exhausted and just took it easy. But on a day when we are focused and have a bit more energy, we can definitely shave a few minutes off of this process. Then, when we go back in to revise it over the next three weeks, it's mainly just doing the online grocery shopping and we can do that in about 10 minutes. If you are just starting this process, it will take a little longer than us seasoned meal planners who have got this down to a science. But I'm telling you that it is TOTALLY doable in 15 minutes once a week.
Pro Tip #1: What makes this process really helpful is when you already know what meal options you have as well as the number of servings each makes. Otherwise, you're trying to figure out how long you can stretch the meal over, and how many leftovers it makes and all of that kind of stuff so that's why the preparation piece is SO vital when you are planning. It does take some time to get a system set up in the front-end but after that it gets MUCH faster and cleaner. It definitely pays off in the long run, so I definitely recommend getting everything situated first so it goes really smoothly. Just have a way to track your approximate servings per recipe.
Pro Tip #2: Another suggestion I would give is to try and get your family involved with the planning process. Make it an experience and get input and feedback from the other members in your family . Meal planning is one of those skills that we really don't learn in school or growing up and it also helps give a voice to the other family members so they feel as though they participated in coming up with what is being served at the table that week. I think it's also important to remember that it's not a perfect world right? We can't expect that everyone will love and be excited for every single meal during the week, but at least if there are some ways to involve others and give pieces of autonomy to everyone, I call that a win.
This process that I teach for meal planning can be used no matter what dietary restrictions you may have or if one person likes this type of food or that. There are so many ways to work with that but I won't have time to cover it all in this video. But I do want to tell you about my course called "Dinner Drama Masterclass" that teaches you how to deal with those issues when family members don't agree when it comes to mealtime. You can get more information about that by visiting my website at katiewredecoaching.com or looking in the description below. I don't know about you, but I don't know one family that agrees on every single meal and food option out there. So this is a class for EVERYONE. Anytime we can minimize or eliminate stress around meal times, I am all for that.
Step 3: Order Groceries (Or Make Your List) All-right so now we are onto the last step, step three, which is ordering groceries. Now I put "make your list" in parentheses because I realize that some people may not have access to online shopping or just prefer not to. For us, we do online grocery shopping because of the amount of time and energy it saves us. It's honestly changed our lives. So what's happening here is my husband has the computer open and the tablet. We're kind of a techy family over here, if you haven't noticed already. So on the computer he's got the online grocery shopping website open, and on the tablet he's got the recipes pulled up for this week. He is telling me what ingredients to check for in our kitchen. If we don't have it, I tell him and he adds it to our order. We actually have names for our roles, "caller" and "runner". Right now I am the "runner" and he is the "caller". We switch those roles every so often as we're meal planning. So here he told me we need one cup of quinoa so since I couldn't tell by looking at the bag if it was enough, I measured it out. Actually, the nice part about measuring it out is then we just put it in a separate container and have it already measured out for when we make it later that week. We are from the midwest so we use Hyvee Aisles Online to shop for our order. It's our major chain grocery store here.
So what I'm doing when you see me looking in the freezer is seeing if there are any ingredients we have lying around in our freezer leftover. Normally there really isn't anything because we only buy what we need and use what we buy. However, occasionally we will have some extra ingredients for whatever reason in there and so we are seeing if we can use those ingredients in a recipe that we will make for the weeks ahead.
Pro Tip #3: Another big tip I have is to NEVER assume you have an ingredient in stock. Always check because we can't rely on our brains to remember things like that. We don't want to run into a situation where we could have saved a trip to the grocery store or the hassle of switching things around because we just assumed we had an ingredient when we didn't. So I'm looking in the cabinet for spices, yes even spices I check. I check EVERYTHING. Eyes on, or assume you don't have it. It's better to be safe than sorry and it honestly does not take that much time to look through to make sure you have all the ingredients.
When he is entering things into the list, it can take a minute and I, as the runner, will kind of be waiting on him. So during this time, I can start thinking about anything unique I want on the list for me like something I might have for lunch or breakfast or a snack. Or I might clean up or organize the kitchen a little bit. Or maybe get a little distracted on my phone...
Pro Tip #4: One thing I will say about ordering groceries online is that it is an imperfect system. You have a human shopping for your groceries who might accidentally give you a not-so-great head of lettuce, or forget the ingredient all-together or the store might be out of stock. Even going in store to buy your groceries is an imperfect system. So in both cases, it's good to have a backup plan so that you don't find yourself without a solution and hungry family members. You don't want to have life happen and have your plan fall completely off the rail. Instead, you want it to be a minor speed bump you just cruise over and continue on. I'll link a video to one solution that can help with those unexpected moments.
All-right so it looks like we are wrapping up the online shopping for our shared meals, so now is where we enter in our separate lists. We usually have food items specific to us when it comes to breakfast and lunch so we individually just put them in our order. Then, after we have our individual wants of what to order, we check the running list we keep and add those items to the order. If at any time during the week we run out of something or realize we need something, we add it to this running list. These are things like condiments, snack items, beverages... you know things like that. We also have a list for household items that we need too like toothpaste, or cleaning supplies...things of that nature.
Technically if we don't have to wait until planning day to add those things, we could keep a running list inside the app itself but it just works for us to have a separate app to look at instead of logging into the site each time as we were going through our week.
So the last step with online grocery shopping is picking the day for it to be delivered (or picked up if you choose that) and then choosing substitutions. My husband is usually the one to do this step and so you'll see me putting that information into the calendar so we know when to expect the delivery. So that's it! I hope you enjoyed this video. Make sure to congratulate yourself for a job well done and enjoy the amazing benefits for the rest of the month due to you focusing and planning for just a short period a few times a month.
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