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Women Living Well Blog: Q and A about my Meal Plan

Women Living Well Blog

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Q and A about my Meal Plan

How far in advance do you plan your meals and how often do you try a new dish? Do you generally rotate the same dinners throughout the month? Thanks for sharing your meal plan with us! It does help! Now I just gotta figure out how to use Excel!

Thanks Kimmy for your great questions!!! Yes, I generally rotate the same dinners through out the month. In Excel you can create a “workbook” and it has multiple “worksheets” in the “workbook” with tabs to access them. I have titled the tabs Meal Plan, Grocery List, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Dessert and Snacks. About 2 years ago, I sat and entered all of our favorite breakfasts on the breakfast sheet, lunches on the lunch sheet and so on. So when I am making my meal plan, I click on the breakfast page and look at my options and then go back to the meal plan and enter breakfast items. Then I do the same with lunches, and dinner. I also look at the ads for the best deals, and my coupons.

After the meal plan is complete, I click to the worksheet titled “Grocery List” and I enter my list of groceries. I check my cupboard and fridge to verify what items I need. After everything is entered, I print the meal plan and grocery list. I put the plan on the fridge and I put the grocery list and coupons in a ziploc baggy (so I can see the coupons and list).

When I meal plan it is usually for the week. But as the seasons change, I love to pull out my recipes that represent that season and work them in. Do you collect recipes but then never make them? Taking a Saturday, when I have free time, to write down which ones I will try during the month helps me. So yes, I do try new recipes but I don't have an organized system for trying them. On the last day of February (last Saturday), I sat in my dining room for nearly 2 hours organizing all my spring recipes and getting them ready for March. I also had a few healthy recipe books from the library and was jotting down some new healthy recipes that I will incorporate. As I type out each week's meal plan, I will look at my monthly plan that I jotted down on scrap paper to remind me of meals I would like to incorporate.

And finally - do not feel the pressure to use excel. I learned this meal planning system off of the author and organizer Emilie Barnes. Her method is simply to use a blank sheet of paper and a pencil. So do not let the "excel spreadsheet" part scare you away. Excel is a great tool - but so is a pencil!!!

Have fun and do what works for you! The average woman will plan, shop, cook, and clean up over 1,000 meals in just one year. Find the system that works best for you and then tweak it and tweak it and tweak it until you find the one you enjoy and can do most efficiently with your resource of time and money.

Walk with the King!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for elaborating! I love Excel, and after reading yesterday's post, I opened Excel and made a meal planning chart. I've tried pencil and paper, but I change my mind so many times in the process - I like to be able to move things around like you can on the computer. Recently I've been using a dry erase board, but it's only for dinners. My kids end up eating peanut butter and honey (their choice) for breakfast, lunch, and snack every day. Not exactly a balanced diet! I'm looking forward to trying this. :)

March 5, 2009 at 7:34 AM  
Blogger Kristi said...

It's always nice to see other people's methods for doing things! I have tried doing my menu planning on the computer, on paper, on a dry erase board... for some reason I had a terrible time making anything work for me! I finally stumbled upon a system that works well for me - I blogged about it a couple of months ago -

I had to find something that worked well for my personality and the way I usually do planning/ grocery shopping! I'm thinking about doing another organizer like this with fun activities for the kids (play dough, etc) so I can be a little more prepared and have a bigger variety of things for them to do each week.

March 5, 2009 at 8:25 AM  
Blogger Courtney said...

Kristi - wow! Your chart is beautiful! Fancy! I like it!

March 5, 2009 at 8:46 AM  
Anonymous Kimmy said...

Thanks Courtney! I like the idea of writing them all down first and then choosing from that list. It will help me because I'm usually leafing through my cookbooks and notebooks of recipes each week trying to find something to make. Unfortunately I feel like we go through the same 20 dinners all the time. I hope this new meal plan will help me be more organized and I wont have to make so many trips to the store!Thanks.

March 5, 2009 at 10:20 AM  
Blogger Shannon said...

Thanks for all your really practical tips this week. I've always admired your orderliness. Now I know your secrets!

March 5, 2009 at 11:41 PM  
Anonymous Jean Stockdale said...

Great post-very practical. Thanks for sharing.

Thanks for stopping by my site and leaving a note. You are such a blessing. On Sat. I link to some good blogs I have read and I would like to link to this post. Many moms read my blog and this is such great info for anybody but esp. moms! Thanks for the tips on the Iphone. I have alot to learn! blessings.

March 6, 2009 at 6:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love your system, Courtney, but when I make a menu like yours, I generally don't follow through with it and then feel the guilt! The kids want the leftovers and don't eat the scheduled lunch food, neighborhood kids unexpectedly stay for dinner, kids have early sports practice and no time for dinner until late, hubby goes out for lunch and phones home asking for a light dinner, etc. So I have found it easiest to make a list of 10-12 meals every two weeks. I shop for those meals and then keep a list and check them off as I make them. This gives me more flexibility in choosing the meal based on the events of the day and still provides some structure.

Your sis, Kristen

March 6, 2009 at 12:52 PM  
Blogger Courtney said...

Kristen - you sound like you have worked out a perfect system for your family where you don't over buy (and end up throwing expired stuff out) or under buy and have to run to the grocery store every 2-3 days. That's the goal - to find a system that saves time and money!

And you know me - all guests are usually pre-scheduled hahaha! Since I live so far from church and family - rarely does anyone drop in - except the neigbor kids which I always have an extra corn dog and popsicle for!

I hadn't thought about kid's sports interferring with dinner - but I'll be in that phase soon - until then - my schedule is working - but we will have to revamp someday!

You know you are my homemaking role model! That's what a big sis is for! Thanks for sharing your method! And for commenting!!!! Yaaaa! My first family comment! I love ya!


March 6, 2009 at 2:12 PM  
Blogger Renee said...

Courtney I was trying to see your excel meal post but don't see anything and also Kristi's. I have four children 15,7,6, and 4 and I really need some guidance on meal planning. I always seem to get off the rocker on this.

Do you plan meals around grocery sales/cycles and coupons?

Just found your blog today and have been reading off and on all day. Love the inspiration that you give!


June 8, 2010 at 7:01 PM  
Blogger Courtney (Women Living Well) said...

Renee - I'm not sure why it's not working for you?

As far as my shopping, I grocery shop at Aldi every other week (they are the cheapest in the area and I highly recommend them if you have one in your area!) I can fill a cart overflowing at Aldi for $85 it's fantastic!

On the other weeks, I shop at a regular grocery store where I plan my foods around the ads and do use coupons. :-)

Much Love,

June 15, 2010 at 7:49 AM  

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