How we meal plan
This is quite a departure from my usual writing, but I love instructional and tutorial posts. I like learning from others' tips and tricks and snagging a glimpse into their day-to-day, taking comfort in the fact that we must all somehow negotiate the daily grind.
While I am still fairly new at this "homemaking" thing--until recently, my abilities have been limited due to scarce funds, and, well, lack of an actual home to call my own--I must commend myself for my meal planning abilities. There, I said it. Humble I am not, but I am a damn good meal planner. Through meal planning, my type A tendencies, love of cooking, and enthusiasm for planning meet in happy marriage. I must declare my Google allegiance from the get-go, however, and fear that those of you who are not Google devotees as I am may find this post less than relevant, so I begin with that caveat.
I love recipe blogs and frequently "pin" or bookmark dishes to try for future. Because blogs tend to follow the seasons, it makes meal planning a cinch: I eye a recipe that looks good, then click over to my Google calendar and choose a day that does not yet have a meal planned. I enter meals as "events" for the day and can easily see at a glance what is planned for the week.
I try to vary our meals, so that we do not have pasta three nights in a row. If I see similar dishes already scheduled, I bump the new dish to a later week.
Under event details, I paste the web address, or, if I am cooking from a cookbook, the cookbook name and page number.
Now for the brilliant part: my husband Dan and I share Google calendars, so we both know what the scheduled meal is! Ninety percent of the time, I make the meals, but if I cannot, Dan knows everything necessary to step in and cook for the night. The other brilliant part? All of our previous meals are saved, so we can repeat weeks at a time (although we haven't yet because I have a thing for innovation and an intense disliking for repetition).
As my schedule picks up for the fall and I work to negotiate three part time jobs, I see this being enormously helpful. To prep for each week, I pull up all the recipes I have scheduled and check my kitchen for ingredients. I then make a shopping list for the week's groceries. This part is time consuming--the most time consuming part of the week--but I try to take the time to do it right so that I am set for the week. One grocery trip and a clear roadmap means money, time, and frustration saved!
I have tried all sorts of grocery store apps for my grocery list (well, the free ones anyway) and have not found one that I have liked. All seem to fail me by either refusing to share my list with others or to sync computer and phone. Dan and I have landed on using Wunderlist that we share with one another and frequently update. Whoever is going to the store simply refers to the shopping list.