Organized Meal Planning Made Simple

Organized Meal Planning Made Simple 596

Written by Kari, Contributing Writer

Meal planning has never been one of my favorite activities. I remember when I got married almost 13 years ago the dread I faced every time I went to the grocery store. I never had a plan, I never knew what to get and I had no creativity. My husband was a trooper, because I sure didn’t woo him with my amazing skills in the kitchen. As time went on, I moved from the same ole repeated 5 meals to a broader menu, but I still despised the duty of planning meals and grocery shopping. My solution? Continue to skip the planning and complain every time I went shopping. Wrong solution.

Over the years I have developed a whole new perspective on this task and I have found that I can do it joyfully.

First and foremost, in the Bible, we are told to:

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,”~Colossians 3:23, NIV

This would include feeding and taking care of my family. After all, if I grumble and complain about this task, it won’t be much of a blessing to my husband or kids. They will see that taking care of them is a burden for me and it won’t be enjoyable. Also, what example is that for my kids? Not a good one, that’s for sure.

Back in 2008 I began the process of becoming a Certified Health and Nutrition Consultant, which has been a huge part in changing my perspective in this area. A couple certifications I hold are for Fitness Nutrition and as a Personal Fitness Chef. You bet I look at meal planning and feeding my family differently. It’s no longer a dreaded task nor a burden to me. It’s an honor to be able to take such good care of my family as I sow time into their lives by preparing healthy and nutritious meals.

I’ll have to be honest though – at first, I still struggled with grocery shopping, planning and preparation. I always forgot to take something out of the freezer or I forgot the ingredients to make a side dish and I would find myself getting frustrated and resorting to convenience rather than nutritious. It occurred to me one day that I absolutely had to implement something I had operating in every other area of my life except meal time: ORGANIZATION and a PLAN!

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That’s just what I did and in the matter of a week or two, I had a simple, yet extremely effective meal planning binder and system set up that worked for ME. This ONE change has saved me time, money and sanity over the past three years.

It’s not complicated, nor is it unrealistic. It keeps my most frequently used recipes in one place, I have my preparation details for the week right in front of me and I’m able to keep all my menu plans stored here so I can go back and get ideas when I’m feeling uncreative.photo-700How to make this SIMPLE and EFFECTIVE meal planning binder:

  1. – I took a 1” binder (can be larger if you want) and put dividers in it.
  2. – I named each section for what was most pertinent for me and my family (Menu, Main Dish, Sides/Appetizers, Dessert, Drinks)
  3. – I made up a weekly menu plan and weekly preparation form to be my go-to on a daily basis.
  4. – I have a month calendar so I can put all the dinners on it and I can see a broader view of what the month’s meals look like.

How to use this binder and allow it to make meal planning PRODUCTIVE.

  1. – Every week I take some time to plan my meals for the following week.
  2. – I’ll fill out the menu sheet, then I’ll fill out my prep/details sheet so I know what I have to do on a daily basis (take beef out of freezer, soak pecans, make crème fraiche). This is a life-saver.
  3. – Then I go through the menu and make my shopping list. This is where I saved so much money! Buying stuff I didn’t need, then having to go back and spend more money to buy what I did need.
  4. – LOOK at this sheet everyday to make sure you don’t forget anything. If you need it “out” so you’ll remember to look at it, hang it on your fridge so it’s in front of your eyes all the time.
  5. – Store your most used recipes in their sections. This way you’re not searching all over for the “last place you saw it”.
  6. – Make notes on your meals and recipes. This way you’ll know how often you should or shouldn’t prepare it. Notes such as: “Excellent!” or “Hubby loved it, kids didn’t”. Also note any alterations you made to the recipe and whether it worked or not!
  7. – Keep your menu plans so you can refer to them later.

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It may take a couple weeks to get in the swing of things and remembering you have this wonderful tool, but once you get in the routine of this – your meal planning and shopping will be so much easier.

Now, to wrap this up I’ll share with you one of my go-to autumn recipes that has it’s place in my binder. It is my quick and easy Cinnamon Roll Smash. This is a great, healthy alternative to those store bought cinnamon rolls or ones made with pre-made pastry dough.smash-1

Cinnamon Roll Smash:

What You Need:

Almond Flour Crust

– 2 cups almond flour
– 1/2 cup coconut sugar (you could also use organic cane sugar)
– 2 tablespoons whole milk or heavy cream (use coconut cream for dairy-free option)
– 1 tablespoon real butter, melted (via stovetop is best, you could also use raw coconut oil)
– 1 tablespoon vanilla – make your own
– 2 teaspoon baking powder – aluminum free
– 1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt

Filling

– 1 cup toasted almonds, toasted pecans or toasted walnuts
– 1/2 cup real butter, melted (can use coconut oil)
– 1/2 cup coconut sugar
– 1/4 cup sucanat (or brown sugar)
– 2 tablespoons grade B maple syrup
– 1 tablespoon vanilla – make your own
– 2 teaspoons cinnamon
– 1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt
– 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)

What to Do:

To get complete instructions on how to make these amazing treats, visit Cinnamon Roll Smash and make them as soon as possible! Your family will thank you for it! Now, enjoy the simplicity of meal planning which will make your routine easier, your wallet fuller and will leave you more time in the kitchen to make amazing snacks like these!

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Enjoy! And don’t forget: Everyday make your life A LIFE WORTH LIVING!

*this post may be linked to: Encourage One AnotherTitus 2sdays, and WFMW*

How do you simplify meal planning? Do you have a system?

About Kari

Kari Newsom is a Colorado native who is married to her best friend and they have two children, a turtle and a pug and they live on 5 acres in a small town in Colorado. As a Certified Health and Nutrition Consultant, her passion is to educate people on the realities of living in divine health through simple instruction found in the Bible and through traditions passed down through the centuries. Her motto states: "Health Made Easy. A Life Worth Living." and she is spending everyday fulfilling this ministry God has given her. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, her Blog and Pinterest.

Comments

  1. Great ideas! I need to revamp my meal planning and organize a little better. Thanks for the tips!

  2. Meal planning is not one of my strong suits. I really like the binder idea because it keeps everything in one place.

    • It wasn’t one of mine either (as you probably read), so it really has helped me tremendously. That way I don’t have to constantly have it on my mine. It’s planned out in advance – I just have to look at it :o)

  3. I started making a chart on our computer of favorite meals organized by main protein. I just haven’t printed it off yet… almost two years later! Ha!
    I do vary our protein through the week, so we’ll have a meal with fish/seafood, red meat, white meat, eggs/beans/cheese, and one variety. Then I just work around whatever we have in abundance at home to add veggies and starches. Breakfasts rotate between a few faithful favorites that are easy on homeschool mornings, and lunch is usually a large snack of fruits, veggies, and cheese, hummus, or hardboiled eggs.

    • Even though you haven’t printed off your chart – sounds like you have a good system in place :o) :o) We go through seasons with varying protein. Sometimes my kids get picky – so then that’s when I get creative :o)

  4. I Love This Website!!!

Trackbacks

  1. […] need to try the Cinnamon Roll Smash recipe. It’s amazing! It’s so autumn-y too! To read this entire article, please visit Day2DayJoys where I am a contributing […]

  2. […] meal without needing any extra food to keep me going. Although, having a family, I need to have a plan on hand for our meals and snacks and then I need to make sure they are ready and available to […]

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