I think one of the biggest adjustments to living in the country is weekly meal planning. We no longer live two minutes away from our favorite Chinese restaurant, a Taco Bell, or the grocery store deli. The first week we lived at our new house, it became very apparent that weekly meal planning had to be taken to an all new level. And with previous meal planning experience, we still had a challenge ahead of us. I have no extra time to give to cooking. What to do?
Three habits I’ve created are 1) weekly meal planning, 2) shopping and 3) cooking – and somehow I’ve managed to come up with a way to eat healthier when I have NO TIME.
Weekly Meal Planning
Each weekend, I select at least 3-4 dinners to make for the follow week. I assume that one meal will last at least once for leftovers. I ensure that I already have all the ingredients on hand or I add any needed items to my grocery list. I add any breakfast items and other food items. I take stock of nonfood items such as toiletries and other dry goods such as Ziploc bags and freezer paper.
Ziploc bags and freezer paper lead me to talk about stocking up. I try to get a few extra items each time at the grocery store. We realized shortly after moving that a chest freezer would be useful. We took advantage of Black Friday the day after Thanksgiving and bought our own freezer. I also buy a few extra canned goods or an extra pound of ground beef or chicken. I then bring it home, rewrap it in saran wrap and freezer paper, mark the date I bought it and freeze it.
I buy groceries on the way home from work one midweek evening. That way I’m sure I have what I need for the weekend meals as well. Just this last week, I made an excel spreadsheet grocery list template that now I can print each weekend. The template has the variety of items I typically buy and is organized by section (dairy, produce, meat, etc). The template greatly reduced my grocery list making time and it speeds up the actual grocery buying time in the store.
Want my template? Sign up below and I will send it to you free!
Another perk of my new template is that if Cory has to get groceries, it’s organized for him too. Anyone with a spouse understands how likely it is they might ‘forget’ an item.
Another tip that I’m trying to do more often is doubling the recipe and freezing half. Or when a recipe calls to be made in an 9×13 pan, instead I make two 8x8s. I make one in a glass pan that we are eating during the week and the other in a foil pan with a lid. After it cools, I wrap the foil pan (including the lid) in saran wrap then foil and freeze it. Lesson learned the hard way, don’t forget to label what you have in the dish and the date you made it!
Now just be sure to include your frozen meals in our weekly meal planning rotation so that you don’t find it a year later. 🙂 If anyone is interested in using my excel template for grocery shopping, be sure to subscribe below and my shopping list is yours free!