3 Easy Steps to Take the Chaos Out of Meal Planning for the Year

Unlike my hubby, I don’t wake up and think about what we’re eating for dinner. It’s just not naturally on my radar yet. But he usually likes to know the evening plan even before heading out the door to work in the morning. My first goal for the day is just making it to the coffee pot.

WeLoveMeatI’ve done my share of meal planning in the past, and I love how it helps us save money, time, and brain power early in the morning and throughout the rest of my day. But this year, I want to be more intentional with developing a better system for us to actually use consistently. Everyone kinda has their own method for planning, but this new way for me seemed to work really well so far.

I love Pepperplate.com and have been using it for a while now. I wrote about it here before. I use it to plan grocery lists, or to know what to grab at the store for a recipe if we’re out and about. But this year, I plan to put it’s tools into overdrive, working for me! For the most part, our weeks look very similar in what’s going on in the evenings…and we keep pretty busy. I’m hoping this plan will help us eat better, stick with our $100/week budget for groceries (or even better, reduce that!), and ease some of the daily chaos.

STEP ONE: PLAN A “THEME” PER DAY

So I took maybe about an hour to plan our meals for the whole month January! I came up with what I hope will be a little easier way to duplicate plans for future months. I planned a “theme” for each day of the week, then listed four recipes under each. We happened to be on a roadtrip for the holidays, so I just used Pepperplate, Pinterest recipes I had saved to try and the undivided attention of my hubby while he drove. It worked out really well!

STEP TWO: PICK FOUR RECIPES FOR EACH “THEME”

We started with Sundays, where we decided to do something in the “crockpot”. See, working for a church, I get to work on Sundays and am gone most of the day. And by the time I do get home the last thing I want to do is stand on my feet for one more minute and cook a nice dinner. So crockpot it is!!!

For Mondays, my hubby volunteers with high school students at Young Life, so we need a quick and easy dinner. I also have derby practice, so I don’t want anything too heavy. So we decided to have “leftovers” from Sunday’s crockpot meal. Easy-peasy and two days down.

Tuesdays we took inspiration from a local restaurant me and my coworkers frequent for lunch, for a “Taco Tuesdays” theme. Since we’ll be having more than just tacos, it’s really more like a Mexican Night, but Taco Tuesdays just sounds better. Mexican food just happens to be one of our favorites, we just can’t get enough. I think we could eat Mexican or pizza pretty much any time. I have derby practice on Tuesdays too, but usually Mexican food is pretty quick to prepare.

Wednesdays we’re planning on “soup day”, at least for the winter months, making some favorites and trying out some new ones. So we’ll see how that goes, and how it might need to be adjusted for the warmer months. After January most Wednesday nights John will have Young Life again, so I’ll probably just have leftovers to keep it simple.

Thursdays are “salad nights”  because even though we’re trying to eat better I can only eat so many salads. But I never really think about making them as a dinner at home. I’m not sure why. Hopefully this will help me work those into our meals on a more regular basis, and not be too frequent that I tire of them. I’ll have to meat it up for extra protein before another derby practice later in the evening.

Fridays are “free days” where we can eat leftovers, have our family’s famous “Friday Night Pizza Night” get together, or go out with friends. It works a flex day into the schedule as well where we can swap dinner around from another night too if we end up going out on another night that week. I might need to work in another free night, but we’ll see.

Saturdays were hoping to “fire up the grill”!!! We can grill up some deliciousness for dinner and some extra meat for the coming week to top salads and stuff for lunches. Or pile in the extra grilled meats into some eggs for a hearty breakfast. Yum-O. I’m getting hungry now.

And there you have it! Our plan for the whole month of January. It was so easy once we figured out our “theme” for the day. I plan to add days of the week tags to each recipe in Pepperplate so in the future it’ll pull up all the recipes I’ve used for Mondays in future months to help simplify planning. I can choose from tried and true recipes or try out some new ones.

STEP THREE: MAKE YOUR GROCERY LIST

Each week when I’m ready for the grocery store, I just select the recipes we’ve already decided on and add them to my shopping list in Pepperplate. I love how fast it makes it to create grocery lists – it automatically adds everything the recipe needs. After I’ve added all the recipes I can double check my supplies to see what I don’t need to purchase this time around.

If you’d like to follow along with what I’ll be fixing, be sure to follow me on Twitter at Chochibigoach. I’ll post the day’s recipe in the morning, sometime before 9am, so if you’d like to make it as well, you’ll have time to run to the grocery store. Most are recipes we’ve tried before and love, a few are brand new. Let me how you like the recipe if you decide to make one. I’ll be sure to link a shout out to where I found them as well – check out some of their other amazing recipes.

This is one way I’m hoping to take some chaos out of my everyday this year. What are you doing to plan ahead and make this year less chaotic for you?


Read more about “Organizing My Chaos” here and how I’m planning on starting my year.

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