When I showed y'all my pantry overhaul, we talked about the need for that transformation being that my time spent in the kitchen wasn't as fabulous as it could be, as most of my time in there was spent digging for the spice or sauce I needed rather than actually cooking. Organizing our pantry was a huge hurdle that me and Mr. Spouse conquered to make our kitchen more friendly, but there is also one other key ingredient (I know, I'm so punny) that helps make our time in the kitchen blissful oblivion.
Being that the hubs and I are both gainfully employed (p.t.l.) and absolutely adore our humble abode, when we start heading home from work, that's all we want to do: head home. At the end of a hard day, one of the last things anyone wants to do is meander around the grocery store to find a frozen box to throw in the microwave and label "dinner". Everyone hearts a home-cooked meal, amen? But I think a lot of young professionals feel like cooking dinner after a long, hard day is just not a feasible option. My response to this is, with just a bit of planning and preparation, you can enjoy some home-cooked goodness every night of the week!
So without further ado, in the words of the epically fabulous, one-hit wonder himself, Montell Jordan, this is how we do it...
Mr. Spouse and I are still at the point where we pretty much eat the same things for breakfast and, for lunch, either eat leftovers or at work. This means that I am still lucky enough to really only worry about planning dinner. On Thursday or Friday evening, I sit down with my recipe book and grocery planner.
I spend about half an hour brainstorming and planning meals that I want to cook in the upcoming week. As I decide on each day's dinner, I refer to my recipes to see which items I will need to purchase at the store to make that meal happen. By planning one day at a time, I insure that I have not left out any required groceries, thereby causing a mid-week trip to the store.
Let's take a brief detour to my recipe binder. I am a huge fan of basics. As I started collecting recipes, I knew that I wanted to compile all of my clippings, post-it notes, etc. into a single binder and have the recipes all look uniform and orderly, thereby making each recipe easy to read and find. A couple of years ago, I found a brown, craft paper binder along with craft paper, printer paper at Michael's and I knew that was exactly what I wanted to use for my recipes! I spent a couple of days typing up all of our family recipes and any recipes I had cut out from magazines, cooking shows, etc. and printed them all on the craft paper, which I then placed inside sheet protectors. I also made a page of common conversions for quick and easy referencing while I am cooking. I enjoy that the binder is uniform and easy to use. As I find new recipes, I simply type them up and add them to the binder!
Back to the meal planning... I map out our meals and grocery list on this page - feel free to download your own copy by clicking on the picture! At first, I tried to use templates I found online, but nothing was really working for me. Like I said before, Mr. Spouse and I really just eat dinner at home, so I did not need a form that listed breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner for each day of the week. Further, I wanted a list that had items separated into categories that most of our foods fall under. I created this document with more space and fewer labels and lines so that it's a bit more flexible and moldable to your specific need. Leave me a comment to let me know if you think it will work for you, or if I need to make some changes!
My reason behind planning all of our next week's meals on Thursday or Friday, is so that I can be ready to go to the store and shop early Saturday morning. I then am able to spend the rest of Saturday or Sunday doing any small prep work for more involved meals (i.e. marinating meat, chopping vegetables for salads, making stews or sauces). By doing a couple of steps over the weekend, it makes our weeknights much more calm and enjoyable!
By carefully planning and preparing for our upcoming week, Mr. Spouse and I get to come home to our sweet house, relax, and enjoy a nice, quiet evening and home-cooked meal without too much hustle and bustle!
How do you plan your weekly meals? Do you have a grocery planner you like to use?