Hi, friends! This week, I’m writing about every day rhythms for your home. This is part of my current series, Every Day, which is exploring ways to create healthy and worshipful rhythms for the home, body, and soul. In case you missed them, you can catch up on the introduction to the series and the first homekeeping post about creating a cleaning rhythm. Today, we are talking about…
Meal planning is something that caused great anxiety for me in the first few weeks of marriage. Shopping for groceries in college was easy and painless, since most of my meals came from the cafeteria. But after moving into a home of our own and being responsible for every meal, I freaked out. Like, nightmares about cooking freaking out. I called them half-dreams, because I wasn’t completely asleep, but I was also having really visual and disturbing dreams about cooking, meal planning, and grocery shopping.
IT’S REALLY WEIRD. I KNOW.
My stress dreams would wake me up in the middle of the night because I thought I was supposed to be cooking and figuring out what to cook while I was sleeping. It was terrible. I don’t know where that anxiety came from, but after praying for peace and good sleep, the dreams started going away until they stopped completely a few weeks later. That experience is actually what led me to start writing this blog. I realized that I was desperate for some kind of educational resource that could help me, a recently married young woman, figure out how to do the whole “wife thing”- or more specifically the “adult thing”. I couldn’t find anything like that, so I made one simple decision. I decided to learn. It takes time and effort and a desire to learn how to be a good steward of resources and finances and a home. And after that one decision, I decided to share what I’m learning to create a resource for other young women like me.
Meal planning and grocery shopping are not instinctive. It’s really easy to go to the grocery store and buy a random cartful of food, then get home, eat poorly, and generate a lot of waste. I’ve spent the last year figuring out how to be intentional with our meal planning, and how to be a good steward of the resources the Lord provides for us. That’s why I call it mindful meal planning. So how do you do it? It’s actually not that difficult.
I block out some time to sit down with my meal planning pad (from Rifle Paper Co.), a pen, and my recipe board on Pinterest. Here are two printable meal planners I created in color and black and white.
If you click on the image you’d like to print, a separate tab with the image will open.
Once you have your meal planner and pen, you’re ready to start!
I begin meal planning by filling in any events we have throughout the week. Our kids program at church starts Wednesday night, and Saturday is a bonfire at church. Figure out which meals you won’t be responsible for before planning the rest!
If you have any ingredients left over from last week, plan to use those at the start of the new week before they expire. I had mushrooms, chicken, and spinach left over, so I made one of our favorite pasta dishes with noodles and sauce I also had available. If you have leftover veggies you don’t know what to do with, throw them in an egg scramble for breakfast. That’s our favorite way to use up leftover veggies and prevent as much waste as we can.
Add in a few of your favorite dinners. Think about what ingredients you will have leftover from a meal and try to plan meals that require the same ingredients.
If you’re just cooking for two, your dinner recipes might have leftovers. Write those in as lunches before planning anything extra.
After you plan out events, ingredients close to expiration, dinners, and leftovers, fill in the rest of your meals (with room for flexibility). I don’t fill out every single meal every week, because life happens and plans change. I like to buy a few of my favorite things to have on hand, but I might not stick exactly to the meal plan for breakfasts and lunches. Make sure to leave room for flexibility and try not to over-purchase when you shop for groceries.
Now that you know what you’re going to cook for the week, compile your shopping list! Mine was on the shorter side this week because of a few events and leftover produce from last week. Sometimes my list fills up over half of my notepad, and sometimes I only need a few things! Either way, intentionally and mindfully planning out your ingredients will help trim your grocery bill and steward your resources well.
I attached a magnet to the back of my meal planning pad and keep it on the front of our fridge. I also use this weekly cleaning rhythm print to help stay on top of chores. (You can learn how to create your own cleaning rhythm and download the print here!)
When I plan our meals, our grocery bill might be a little higher, but when I don’t plan our meals, I find we resort to quick and easy frozen food that doesn’t serve our bodies. Don’t get me wrong, I love twice the suggested serving size of pizza rolls. But prioritizing fresh and whole foods makes a big difference in the way we feel both physically and emotionally.
I hope this simple lesson on mindful meal planning will serve you and your family!
Do you have any golden meal planning tips? I’d love to hear your insight! I’m still looking for ways to improve this skill and continue purchasing groceries mindfully.
If you decide to use the meal planner I provided, I’d love to see and share your photos! You can use the tag #everydayhomekeeping on Instagram to join me in creating healthy every day rhythms for the home.
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