I don’t know about you, but one of the most difficult things about living a healthy lifestyle is meal planning! So, I thought I would share today how I plan my meals and make grocery lists, so that I don’t have to think about it! Imagine having a months worth of meals already figured out and a grocery list to go along with it? It’s an amazing feeling.
The first amazing resource that I requested for Christmas and got was a Cultivate What Matters Meal Planner & Grocery List Pad. Now, I probably don’t use it as intended, but I am definitely using it in a way that serves me! And, I LOVE it! At the top it has Week #________ and I want this week’s meals to be: _______. I just put weeks 1, 2, 3, or 4 in the first blank, and in the second, I wrote Favorite Breakfasts, or Favorite Dinners. I don’t typically need to plan lunches because I’ll eat leftovers from the night before. Then, I choose my favorite cookbooks and recipes, and started writing them down on the days of the week. I also made a note next to each on which cookbook it came from and the page #, so I can easily locate it when I’m ready to make my grocery lists or prepare the meals. I have used Arbonne 30 Days to Healthy Living recipes, (if you purchase the kit, the recipes are sent from me to you, and you get access to a Facebook community with more tips and more recipes!) Saving Dinner Recipes, The Daniel Plan Recipes, Trim Healthy Mama Recipes, and New Life Promise Recipes (that I got through a subscription service on one of my many diet plans). After I randomly choose the meals, I go through them and separate them by the protein (chicken, beef, salmon, sausage, etc). I wanted my weeks to be balanced and so I spread out the proteins amongst the weeks as equally as I could. I also pay attention to whether it’s an ethnic dish so that I don’t have all of the Chinese or Mexican the same week. The recipes I choose are whole foods, without junk. Organic Meats and veggies when possible, and nothing with a long list of ingredients. I am currently choosing gluten, dairy, and soy free products. And, thankfully I’ve found some plant based alternatives for gluten and dairy. And, I love Braggs Coconut Aminos for an alternative soy sauce and Nutritional Yeast adds an amazing buttery flavor in several foods. I don’t use pasta unless it’s a brown rice variety, and no bread (I haven’t found a gluten free bread that I like, yet…..if you know of some, comment below, I’d love to try some out)!
After I have chosen 4 weeks of breakfasts and dinners, I look up the recipes and write down the groceries needed for each week. The list can go right on the right hand side of the Meal Planner & Grocery List Pad. I’ve used it like this once, and you could just reuse each month. However, in the future, so that I can mark things off as I go, or not add to the list if I already have the ingredients, I think I’m going to make a master grocery list for each week and just highlight or put a checkmark by each item needed, then I can cross it off when I’ve gotten it. And, then just reprint for the next month. Still super easy, but not so messy as using a repeated shopping list on the Meal Planner Pad.
Though this takes a little while to set up, once it’s done, it’s done. And, I no longer really have to think about anything. I keep the Meal Planner Pad in the kitchen on the current week, and if I don’t like the meal I wrote down for a particular day, I just choose another one for the week. This past week, I knew we would not be home one of the days, so I only had to purchase 6 days worth of groceries! Also, to make it easier, I have copied the recipes for each week and put them all together with that week’s menu plan. Then, I don’t have to dig out my cookbooks!
Like I said, it has taken some time to get this set up and organized, but I just worked on it a little bit at a time until I got through 4 weeks. Now, I’m reaping the reward of being organized, having meal plans, and having grocery lists all ready to go!
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I hope this was helpful, I know it’s been a life saver for me! It’s definitely helped transform my life by keeping me organized and sane when it come to meal planning and keeping me healthy!