Meal Planning from Start to Finish

For me, meal planning is an ever evolving art form. Partly because my family needs change, and partly because perfection is in the eye of the planner.

Sundays are for planning.

We’re all creatures of habit. And when it comes to meal planning, my habits tend to show face. That’s why Sundays have become my dedicated meal planning days. Every Sunday, I sit down to write out my plan for the week. I wasn’t at home this Sunday but I knew it had to get done, so I wrote it out in the morning before heading to the grocery store. I was actually dreading the process because it was out of my typical Sunday routine but it had to get done. Much to my amaze, even though I was out of my typical Sunday routine, in less than ten minutes, I had my plan in place and my weekly groceries on lockdown.

Curious to learn more about my meal planning process? It may sound tedious but it’s what truly keeps me on my health and fitness goals every single day of the week. So, what do you say? Let’s get started.

*Keep in mind that some of these steps may seem like they take a lot of time or that they’re super long, but they’re steps I’ve found that work best for me. They actually help me save time in my day-to-day schedule. Everybody is different and so are your routines. It’s all about finding out what works best for you. 🙂

Now, shall we begin?

1. Tackling breakfast.

First, I take visual inventory of our fridge, freezer, and cabinets. Then, I start my list. When it comes to breakfast for Mike and the kids, I like to keep breakfast staples on hand which may include oatmeal, eggs, bacon and protein pancakes throughout the week. So each week, I try to buy:

  • yogurt
  • 2 bunches of bananas
  • 2 pounds of bacon
  • 36 eggs
  • 1 bag of apples

Added extras: Sometimes, I like to keep extra oats, chia seeds, protein powder, wild blueberries, honey and cinnamon in the house too.

2. Remembering lunch.

Ty doesn’t have a lunch hour, so he’s on rotation of a few different lunch choices throughout the week:

  • beef jerky
  • nitrate-free ham with organic cheese
  • pure protein bars
  • pure protein RTD shakes
  • apples
  • assortment of nuts

Grace and Jack have a snack at school, so every few weeks I need to restock their school snack. But currently, the below is our heavy rotation:

  • pouches
  • raisins
  • gf/nut free/soy-free bars
  • cheese
  • snap peas.

Now when it comes to my meals for the day, I typically have a few small meals that may include a smoothie, salad, and bone broth. I tend to buy the same ingredients for those every few weeks. I also cook enough food so I have leftovers.

My little ones like peanut butter and jelly tortillas rolled up, quesadillas with left over meat or eggs, and they’re also almost always up for having the latest leftovers.

It’s all about finding what works best for you. Planning your meals ahead of time leaves out the guessing game and the opportunity to look for snacks or food as “quick fixes” that aren’t necessarily healthy.

3. “Snacks” are banned from the the house.

Be careful with what you label your household foods. Especially when it comes to feeding your kids. “Snacks” can have a very powerful meaning in my household. We ended up banning “snacks” as a result of Grace only wanting her school snack food and not prepared meals. So the kids have a “second lunch,” that is really a snack. See what I did there? 😉

These days, we have sliced up cucumbers, spinach, fruit, a mixture of almonds and cashews, jerky or yogurt topped with Cheerios.

4. Meals meet my calendar.

I use my calendar to plan out our meals each week. On Mondays, the little ones are with a babysitter and Ty gets home around 6:30 so I try to cook dinner at least two hours before. I typically try to time it so the littles eat at 5:30 and Ty and I sit down to eat around 7.

The rest of the weekdays are standard with a sitter for the same hours, but Ty is home right after school. Our weeknight meals may consist of shrimp and asparagus, spaghetti pizza pie, and a meat with veggies. As I’m writing this blog post, I picked up pork chops since they were on sale at the store, so those will be our meat for this week. Mike will be home Friday, so we’ll have ribs, either smoked or grilled. Saturday is already sorted and Sunday is kept as OPEN. This means, we will have a choice of leftovers which will be something out of the freezer or I may run to Jewel. Mike will be gone already, and Ty eats with his teen group at church, so it’s a little easier to pick something on the fly for just the three of us.

When I’m planning out our meals for the week, I try to get an idea of who is here throughout the week and to simply take it day-by-day.

Focus on you.

The hardest decision for me is my own breakfast. I haven’t been liking the last couple of breakfast options I make for myself and I want a change. Sometimes, I struggle to come up with some new ideas, so I try to make a few small changes. Trading one ingredient out for the other can make all the difference.

While this may seem like a lot at first glance, it’s important to remember that these are habits I’ve created over time to keep things streamlined and easy. I create these habits by making simple, healthy choices followed by more simple and healthy choices. Trust me, there’s been times when the breakfast options wouldn’t rotate and I was eating the same thing all week. Lunch was always leftovers or it would be one thing I made on day one for the whole week. I’ve found that simple keeps me successful, and I change things up when I get tired of the current meal.

You have to find out what works best for you. And remember, it never hurts to mix things up!

What habits do you have when it comes to meal planning? Comment below!