Without a doubt, the number one thing that used to stress me out the most about cooking every day was figuring out what to even make. Raise your hand if you’ve played this game with someone before… What do you want to eat? I don’t know what do you want to eat? Yeah, go ahead and put your hand down because SAME + I hate it, yet I always find myself doing it.
I knew I needed to make meal planning something that I actually enjoyed doing. For me, that means lounging on the couch with a hot cup of coffee wrapped up in my favorite blanket. I turn on some good music, gather up all of my favorite cook books and start flipping through. Even if I don’t make that exact recipe it might inspire me to make something I already know how to do! Pinterest is always a great place to get inspiration for meals. I can’t even tell you the amount of times I’ve typed “dinner ideas” into the search bar in hopes that I’d see a picture of something that sparked my interest. I also make sure to think about what our week looks like and how much time i’ll actually have to cook each night. For example, my husbands off on Mondays so we usually like to cook together and eat early, meaning my time intensive meals are great for Mondays.
When my husband + I got married this past year, we started using the Notes app for iPhone to make our shared grocery list. It worked out great because we could both add things that we needed and check them off if we had a chance to pick them up for the week. Before I knew it we were adding in meal ideas and things we wanted to eat later in the week. Then it kinda just hit me that wouldn’t it be easier to just put everything in one place? Meal plans, shopping lists, recipe ideas?
First up, I needed a spot where we could plan out our meals for each day. I don’t know about you but the last thing I want to do when I get home from a full day of work is go to the grocery store or worse, figure out what I’m even gonna cook. So, I plan out something for each night. Now, I’m a huge fan of leftovers (and I ALWAYS cook too much food) so I don’t usually need to plan lunches but you definitely could! I know if I try to meal plan during the week it just won’t happen so I usually carve out time on Sunday mornings to plan for the week. This is also the day I go shopping for the week, yes, week. I’ve found that if I actually plan out my meals ahead of time, I only need to go grocery shopping once a week. I don’t know about you but this also helps us save money – we’ve found that even if we only need to go to the store for one thing, we end up buying so much more. (hello target runs – I’m talking to you…)
Next was the thing that started this all, our shopping list. First, I think about any staples that we need to stock up on and I add them to our list. Next, I go through each meal I plan on cooking and add any ingredients I know we need to pick up. I make sure to double check recipes and add everything to here so that I can just bring my phone with me since I’d be sure to forget a list that I write down on paper. Best part, if we go grocery shopping together we can divide and conquer. Since the note is shared with both of us, we can check things off as we get them. Makes me think how far we’ve come with technology – I remember the days when I’d go shopping with my mom and she’d rip off the right side of the list and hand it to me!
We also add things to this list throughout the week. Anytime one of us says hey, remind me we need to get… it goes on the list cause you know damn well we ain’t gonna remember to remind each other.
Side note – yes, we go to two grocery stores most weeks. Fun fact: I’m allergic to lactose (not lactose intolerant – worse HA) so Whole Foods has a lot of good dairy free alternatives that work great for us. However, I’m a teacher, so ain’t no way I can afford to do all my shopping there. While it definitely makes grocery shopping a longer task each week, it works for us.
Now, this portion of the note has been, hands down, the biggest time saver for me when it comes to meal planning. Each week, before I clear my dinners for the week to start over, I write down what we ate that week under this category. This way, when I’m having one of those weeks and I can’t think of anything to cook, I can go here and remind myself of previous meals we liked. While you think you’ll remember what you’ve made – you never do. If I used a recipe off Pinterest I’ll even add the link here for easy access in the future!
Last category in the notes is again, to help out future me. Any time one of us has a craving for something or sees a recipe/meal on Instagram that we want to try we add it to this list. So, when I plan for the week I always go here first and see if anything on this list could work for us that week!
The key to meal planning is to make it something you enjoy doing! So whatever that means for you, go into it with a positive attitude rather than thinking of it as a chore you have to do.
Now, how do you make the list look cute? Cause we all know if it looks pretty you’re more likely to use it… yeah I know, right there with ya. If you hold down one the following four pictures, you can save them to your photos! Then, add them to a new note by inserting a picture using the camera button in the note.
Tag me on Instagram if you start using it – I’d love to see what you’re making and how it’s working for you!!