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I’m always on the lookout for more efficient ways to complete recurring tasks like laundry, cleaning, running errands, cooking and menu planning.
But as much as I’ve learned to embrace these unavoidable chores, there are other things I’d rather be doing with my time. That’s why I’ve refined my menu planning process to the point that it takes me about 2 hours each week–grocery shopping included.
The process starts with a 10- to 15-minute planning session, where I jot down meal ideas on my worksheet and then fill in the grocery list as I go. For evenings when I know we’ll be dining out, I simply mark the day with an “X” so I don’t buy more food than we need.
To generate meal ideas, I use several different sources: magazines, Pinterest, cooking websites, as well as cookbooks and my personal recipe collection. I also designate one day each week as “leftover” night, which often results in a giant salad with various toppings. This helps reduce waste and it also saves time.
Some weeks I plan breakfast and lunch, but typically I stick to planning dinners. Breakfast is pretty easy. I rotate through several options over the course of the week: eggs, cereal, fruit, peanut butter toast and smoothies. And lunches are usually leftovers from dinner the night before.
However you choose to approach healthy eating, careful planning on the front end makes grocery shopping a breeze, and it also increases the likelihood that you’ll actually eat well (rather than just thinking about the fact that you should).
How do you plan your menus?