Meal Planning Made Easy

Some of you might not know that I grew up in a family of eight kids. My mom (rock star that she is) was an incredible meal planner. She pretty much had to be since we had a tight budget and lots of mouths to feed.I can still remember as a little girl watching my mom plan out our meals two weeks in advance. Then she would make a grocery list and get everything she needed for those two weeks. She had it down to a science and it was an incredible thing to behold.Once Matt and I got married, I remember trying to plan our meals the same way my mom used to do it. It didn't quite work out in the beginning... I was used to buying food for LOTS of people! Let's just say in the first few months of our marriage, we threw away a lot of spoiled produce. Ooopsies.I did finally find my stride and I want to share with you what works for us. I realize everybody has their thing so best case scenario is that you take a little something from this and tweak it to make it work for you.First things first, we sit down at the beginning of the week and talk about our plans. If we will be eating out certain meals, we write them down so we don't end up with extra food we don't need. I then plan out what we are going to need for each meal that week.I love using my Simplified Planner for meal planning. It's so nice to have my calendar, to-do list. and menu all in once place. Not to mention it's just so pretty!Once we figure out our schedule, I make one trip to the store for the week. Sometimes I get stuff to carry us into the next week, especially if it can be frozen. Most of the time though it's just what we need for that week.A normal week looks like this for us:Monday: Breakfast: Toast with raw honey, scrambled eggs, orangesLunch: Carrots with hummus, rolled up turkey with cheese, apple sauceDinner: Honey baked chicken, green beans, sweet potatoesTuesday:Breakfast: Waffles (frozen organic) with sliced bananaLunch: Smoothie and pretzelsDinner: Kids Eat Free at Fickle Pickle (Yes, Lord!)Wednesday:Breakfast: Smoothie and scrambled eggsLunch: Chick fil a play date with friendsDinner: Baked salmon, broccoli, and brown riceThursday:Breakfast: Toast with raw honey and peanut butterLunch: Black bean and cheese quesadillasDinner: Nachos with ground turkey, shredded spinach, black beans, and cheeseFriday:Breakfast: Cereal and almond milkLunch: Carrots and hummus, turkey and cheese, strawberriesDinner: PIZZASaturday:Breakfast: Chick fil a (don't judge me)Lunch: LeftoversDinner: Date Night!Sunday:Breakfast: Gluten free Pancakes and chicken sausageLunch: Family Lunch after churchDinner: Pasta with spinach and chicken sausageIn addition to all the items I need for meals, I also get snack foods to keep for me and the girls during the day. Matt isn't much of a snacker and with his diet limitations, snack foods are hard to come by!The biggest game changer for me when it came to meal planning was just deciding to actually plan. I know that sounds ridiculous but I spent many years just kind of flying by the seat of my pants. Cooking when I felt like, begging to eat out when I didn't (can I get an amen?). Taking the time to sit down and plan out our week set us up for success in so many ways. We found we were eating cleaner since we were making eating decisions in advance. We also found that we were managing our budget better by knowing week to week what we would spend.I hope this helps to get you off on the right start. If you aren't a planner by nature, just start out planning a few days out of the week. I'll tell you though. This way of planning things out frees up a lot of time in the long run! You might just learn to love it!Happy Meal Planning, y'all!