Meal planning is one of the easiest things you can do to set yourself up for success for the week; but planning those meals can still be a time-consuming chore. If you’re not a planner, like myself, then this meal-planning strategy will simplify your life.
Do you go to the grocery store with your very specific weekly list in hand and know exactly what you need to buy to make the meals for the week? Not me. I’m not a planner and the act of sitting down and writing out a weekly menu and grocery list is a chore in itself.
With that in mind, I took a look at our family’s habits. Our family eats the same basic meals on a regular basis. Sometimes we get a little creative with a new recipe, but for the most part our three kids like things status quo. I realized that our meals are always determined based on what type of meat or fish we have in the house. From there, coming up with the side dishes is pretty easy because we always have tons of vegetables, fruit, rice, and potatoes in the house.
If I could make choosing the main portion of the meal easier, then grocery shopping would be much more simple and faster.
We decided that for each day of the week, we would assign a meal staple (type of meat, fish, or pasta). For instance, every Sunday, the meal would be ground beef-based; every Tuesday, chicken-based, etc. Now, when I walk into the grocery store, I know exactly what type of meat I need to buy.
- Sunday: Ground Beef
- Monday: Roast or Steak
- Tuesday: Chicken
- Wednesday: Pizza or Calzone
- Thursday: Pasta
- Friday: Ground Beef
- Saturday: Pork or Fish
(While we may eat meat/fish almost every day, our plates still consist of lots of vegetables and fruit.)
This doesn’t mean that every Sunday we have to have hamburgers. It’s just means that the meal will be prepared with ground beef. It may be meatballs, chili, hamburgers, or tacos. The day we have chicken may be chicken cutlets, roasted chicken, chicken soup, or chicken salad. Monday’s beef may be a roast, grilled steak, steak fajitas, or beef stew.
This also doesn’t mean that you forego the sales! I’ve been shopping long enough to know that when chicken drops below $2.00 per pound, I stock up and freeze the extra.
The plan allows for some flexibility in purchases. If this week the spoon roasts are on sale I buy those for Monday. The following week the London Broil or Eye Round roasts may be on sale – all of these fit into the Monday beef choices.
If you’re like me and want to basically eliminate the “meal planning” step and go straight to “grocery shopping”, then this super easy shopping strategy may work for you too!