Friday, December 12, 2014

The Magic of Meal Planning

 Back in October I started meal planning. I know, I know, I'm late to the party on this one. I knew for a long time that being more organized about our food would really help with food waste, nutrition & just the stress of trying to make dinner at the last minute, etc (more on all that later). But I resisted, because it felt too... I don't know... housewifey? Too Pinteresty? Not sure exactly.

So, anyway, I decided to do it, but in my own half-assed way. No fancy apps or calendars, I just make a short list on Evernote on my phone. I only plan meals Monday to Friday, leaving weekends to chance, restaurants, &/or my husband. I only plan dinner, leaving breakfast & lunch to habit (lots of toast, oatmeal, leftovers, fruit, yogurt & cheese). By plan, I come up with a meal (I'm a big fan of one pot meals, casseroles, & pastas with lots of meat & veg all in one dish) for each day, then figure out what groceries I'll need to order or go to the store for. I usually peruse the sales at our local grocery store & online at, then plan a meal or two around something that's on sale.

Another trick I like to use is to plan at least two or three meals a week with overlapping ingredients. By that I mean, I'll cook up a big batch of rice or quinoa, then use it for two different meals. Or if we have, say, a whole roast chicken, I can turn that into wraps the next day, then chicken caesar salad the next day, or whatever.

Now that it's been about three months, I can say that I really do see a difference. We waste less food, I guess the leftovers are getting eaten for lunch more often, but more importantly we're not ordering a bunch of veggies & then forgetting about them in the crisper drawer. Dinner time is generally less stressful (though with a four-year-old & a 15-month-old at the table, nothing is ever all that calm) & we're eating a little earlier.

I've found a few new favourite recipes too. Skillet Cheeseburger Macaroni is the perfect comfort food. Quinoa Tuna Casserole (I substituted peas for mushrooms & tossed in a bunch of parmesan) is pretty healthy & a great budget meal.

What about you? Have you ever tried meal planning? Or online shopping for your groceries? If you're interested in trying organic grocery delivery, check out Use the code CRVAN-CORLIS when you sign up & you'll get $20 off an order of $50 (& so will I--thanks!).

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  1. I always plan. The part of me that tries to be organized?? I only grocery shop 1x per week. So I pick up all that we have run out of, plus the appropriate foods for 7 dinners, 5 lunches for the kids (school stuff), all the baking stuff if I plan to do baking that week etc. I saw on a blog somewhere..I think the one for Mabel's Labels? about a mom who plans for a whole month, then posts the dinner schedule on the wall. I'd like to be able to do that, but not sure I have a months worth of variety! I generally only shop at one grocery store each week, plus one costco run per month, so I try to watch the sales. I don't like trying to decide what to eat when everyone is hungry and cranky. Much easier if I plan it out!

  2. I can't believe I waited as long as I did to start... LOL

  3. There is everything right and nothing "housewifey" about planning meals! This is an inspiring post! I have been doing once a month sessions at a local business where you spend two hours prepping eight huge meals, bring them home and freeze them and dinner is mostly served for about 5 nights a week for four weeks. It seems a bit expensive but is so much better than all the wasted produce and takeout food we were doing before! The food is healthy too, because it's real ingredients and home cooked. We have two kids in two places, both Brad and I work, the planning and executing just wasn't happening until I started doing this about 6 months ago. I am super envious of the woman who grocery shops once a week - we are still there many days, often just getting one or two things as they come up, plus we have weekly SPUD delivery. Just can't quite get our act together!


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