This blog post is different from any of my other posts, but I think is really important to talk about because it is something that in my house, in the past, has really caused a lot of contention. I can’t even count how many fights have happened at 5 pm. A typical discussion would be something like:
“What do you want to eat?”
“I don’t know. What do you want to eat?”
“I don’t know. What do you want to eat??”
Before you know it, it is already 6 pm, we’re fighting and end up getting takeout. Sound familiar?
The Chinese food you ordered might taste really good at that moment, but then two hours later, you’re hungry again and regret that decision.
I decided to share how I’ve streamlined our meal planning and our grocery household items within my house for the last three years. It’s been a game-changer for my family. We were spending far more money than I like to admit by going out to eat multiple times per week or by going to the grocery store and getting all this food without having a set meal. A lot of food was going to waste because we wouldn’t use it.
Also, part of the reason why I was prompted to share how we are streamlining our food is that a few weeks ago I posted on Instagram about meal planning that I do. I got so much good feedback that I wanted to share the whole process.
We always do meal planning, typically two weeks at a time. As a family, we sit down on the weekend, usually after we eat breakfast, and meal plan. I don’t have any fancy spreadsheet. I just write down the date, the day, and the meal on a sheet of paper. We usually do two weeks at a time, because I feel like it’s just easier. That might sound counterintuitive, but I think a lot of times it becomes easier to ideate when you’re just sitting there.
In our meal planning notebook, I keep a list of meals that we like to eat. It might be curry, spinach, artichoke pesto, pasta, etc. We always have a running list of recipes that we like to add too. They become our staples. Meals we would cook on a regular basis.
Streamline your Meals
I also like to streamline our nights. For example, we always do Taco Tuesday. Every Tuesday without fail, we do some sort of taco or Mexican/Latin-themed type of meal. It can range from tacos, enchiladas, to burritos, fajitas, or mole. That happens every Tuesday. It becomes very easy to pick the meal this way.
- On Mondays, we do some sort of vegetarian meal.
- Every single Friday, we do family pizza night.
- In the fall and winter months, we’ll usually have an Italian night, where every Wednesday, we have some sort of a pasta dish.
Doing this process helps me eliminate a lot of the decision-making process you have to go through when selecting meals.
I have a framework for when questions like “Hey, what are we going to eat tonight?” come up. I usually use Half-Baked Harvest to come up with ideas. Tieghan Gerard has really good, easy weeknight meals on her site. On weekends, we usually do something a bit more special, like Ramen or smoke something on the grill.
We also pair that with special sports seasons, like football season. So on my meal sheet, I always organize that in, should we want to have dinner with football, for example. If we have an event coming up on a Saturday, such as my kids playing soccer, I’ll make note of where the soccer games or practices are on the meal planning sheet simply because it’s easier to have that all in one space. If the kids have soccer one night I don’t want to be making a whole big meal. I want to have something easy that I can just pull out of the freezer and throw in the oven and doesn’t require a lot of prep work.
With meal planning, I always like to do some sort of slow cooker batch meal where I cook more than we need. That can be a pork shoulder where we make pulled pork and then we take that pulled pork and we make it into crunchwrap supremes or sandwiches. It can easily turn into a barbecue night and has multiple functions throughout the week. The same thing goes for a whole chicken. We’ll eat it with tacos one night, and maybe have it for lunch another day. It just gets used in a lot of different ways.
That’s really my whole meal planning process.
Streamline your ordering process and grocery delivery
Now, I’ve also streamlined our grocery delivery and ordering process. We don’t really go to the grocery store that much anymore, instead we use a service called Peapod, an online grocery shopping service.
I love and swear by Thrive Market. It’s an online grocery store, where they sell all sorts of natural organic, USDA certified, GMO free, healthy food market. You can basically sort the food by the things you need. If you’re vegan or gluten-free, or have dietary restrictions, they do a really nice job in sorting it by category. I have found that for us it is much cheaper than shopping in the same way from our local grocery store. You do have to be a paying member, but the savings we receive are 100% far greater than the membership which is $50 or $60 for the year.
We use their service and get an auto-shipment of that once a month. You can also save extra money by using their subscribe and save feature. Some items will show up every four weeks, eight weeks, 12 weeks. You simply indicate the quantity you need. They also offer an additional discount between 5 – 15% for having it on auto-ship. That has worked really well for us. It does take a bit of work to manage and get set up, but once it’s set up, it’s really easy to just go in there and place your order.
Since we meal plan for two weeks, we can check our pantry and maintain that level of whatever we have in the pantry by going in and making sure it’s on the list to ship in the next month.
For meat delivery we use a service called Butcher Box. Everything that they sell is USDA Organic, grass fed, vegetarian fed, no hormones added, no extra stuff like humanely raised meat. I find that their meat is excellent. I know ahead of time what we’re going to use, and we don’t get a delivery from them every month because we have one of those big freezers. Every other month, we’ll get a big delivery, restock the freezer, and then do the same thing again in the next couple of months.
Another service we use is Misfit Market. Misfit Market buys produce that would not be allowed in a grocery store, and then they resell it. Oftentimes, I bought these massive 24” zucchinis from them. The tomatoes are funnily shaped, however, it’s all organic, it’s all pesticide-free and it’s a lot cheaper than shopping at the local grocery store. You can choose to build the box every week, every other week, or once a month. This provides us with the fruits and veggies that we need each and every week.
Of course, Amazon has their Subscribe and Save program as well. That’s where we leverage all the household things we need. We buy the method cleaner, their toilet paper, paper towel, etc. It’s really easy, and I don’t have to think about it.
With all these online services, we also use our traditional grocery store, where we get eggs, milk, butter, and cheese. Basically, things we need daily that we can’t order online, yet. But again, we usually go there once every three weeks or so.
I’ve also used a service called Platejoy, where you basically tell them how many breakfasts, lunches, dinners, how many batch meals you need and you pick through whatever recipes they recommend for the week. Next, they put together a shopping list for you. One of the struggles I had with it, is that we would get bored with the recipes because they would always be reiterating the same recipes. If you wanted to import your own recipe, it would be a huge pain in the budget, because you have to enter in the quantities of everything that you need to order.
So, our current system works really, really, really well for us. It eliminated a lot of those we’re gonna get into a fight at the end of the day because everybody’s hangry! situations that happen in every family.
I realize this is a very different topic from what I normally share, but I thought it was important to do since I got great feedback about meal planning. So, I thought I would expand upon that and hopefully help you eliminate some of those hangry fights that might happen at dinner time. Help you plan ahead, not waste food, spend less money on takeout and waste fewer groceries. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me!
Some links in this post are affiliate links.
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