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Meal Planning in 10 Minutes

February 9, 2022

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Meal planning in 10 minutes? I bet you my last drop of coffee that stopped your scroll. 

Let me start by saying, I don’t like meal planning. It’s the one task in my week that feels like a chore, more than the other ones. I’m pretty sure it’s because meal planning requires more brain space. It feels almost like jenga in your brain, how do you pick out a meal? Which meals do you plan for this week? How do you prevent yourself from feeling like you’re always eating the same thing? How do you ensure it’s (semi) balanced? How do you avoid food waste?

See? Brain space. 

Needless to say, I have made it a personal mission to make meal planning easier. If it’s not going away, I need a system to make it manageable. This is that system.

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Is it really 10 minutes? Yes. I timed myself this past weekend during my usual chunk of meal planning time. Amidst baby birthday shenanigans, family visiting, a chaotic house, another snow storm, and needless to say, lots of distractions, I set a timer and meal planned for the week ahead. And it was 10 minutes.*

So how do we do it? 

First: Start with your dinners 

Depending on what you have going on during your week/evenings, your dinners will help you know when you’ll need to make a quicker meal, order takeout, etc. For example, my husben and I have standing 7PM meetings on Tuesday evenings so those nights we opt for something faster to cook and clean up (i.e. baked salmon and roasted veggies – a one sheet meal).

Second: Lunches

Use the dinners you wrote down as a guide for when you’ve got leftovers for the next day, or need to have something quicker on hand (i.e. tuna salad for salads or sandwiches). This is an opportunity to get creative too! If I know I’ll probably have leftover salmon, but maybe not leftover veggies, I could put the salmon on top of some greens and call it good. I could also just be sure to buy/cook more salmon than maybe I usually would to ensure I do have leftovers for the next day.

Third: Breakfast

Bet you didn’t see that coming (just kidding). I don’t make big breakfasts, so I rarely plan this piece out, but it might be useful for you if having a planned out breakfast is important to your days/week. I do, however, plan out my daughter’s breakfasts because having to think more thoughtfully about her breakfasts first thing in the morning is not a great start to my day (based on experience).

Fourth: Make your grocery list.

Now you have everything laid out so you’ll know exactly what you need to shop for for the week! I like to throw in a couple extra items too, for when those munchies hit 😉

Also, be sure to put any items on the list you might be using up that week which would need to be replaced for future weeks. For example, if I’m making coconut curry meatballs, there’s a good chance I’ll use up the small jar of curry. So I’ll add curry to the grocery list.

Bonus tips and suggestions:

  • Write your plan down and put it somewhere highly trafficked and visible. I put the whole written out copy on our fridge. Now everyone in the family knows exactly what’s coming up in the week. Then I put a shorthand version in my planner, so my stomach knows what’s coming.
  • Make and keep a list of meals you know and love and reference it when you’re meal planning! It’ll prevent the inevitable Pinterest rabbit hole scroll trying to find something delicious and praying it turns out semi okay. It also helps keep us from feeling like we’re eating the same things over and over again.
  • Use your calendar/planner when you are meal planning. It’ll help you think more holistically about your week and what is ahead (i.e. events, holidays, etc.). This way you won’t be trying to make that three course meal on soccer practice night. Psst: our 2022 Planners have meal planning space built in them so you can have your meal planner and calendar all in one place.

If you need a paper meal planner to work from, we have one in our shop that’s easy to use, completely blank (no paper wasted), aesthetically pleasing, and with tear off pages making it easy to use and put somewhere visible. It also has space for you to write out recipes to try and your grocery list. Or try out a digital meal planner if that’s more your speed 🙂

What questions do you have or go to recipes do you love? I’m always on the lookout for new fun recipes to try!

With joy & gratitude,

Val

*I will say, the first time or the 10th time you do this, it might not be 10 minutes. But it will be 10 minutes. Just give it some time and practice and yourself grace 🙂

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