I truly believe that the habit of creating a weekly meal plan is critical to saving time, money, health and sanity in the kitchen. This new system has revolutionized my meal planning, and you won’t believe how simple it was to implement.
Meal Planning Helps to:
- Save time stressing about what to make for dinner
- Save money by avoiding takeout or convenience food
- Save money by planning to use up all the food in your fridge
- Save your family’s health (because homemade meals are often healthier than the alternatives)
- Save your sanity: always know what comes next
My Revolutionary Meal Planning System
My meal planning system has morphed over the years from those magnetic daily planning pads to a custom designed Excel spreadsheet to random pieces of paper (that was during the days of sleep deprivation following the birth of Baby Bro) to what I’m doing now.
Are you ready for this?
**We put a chalkboard on the kitchen pantry door, which is where I now record the meal plan for the week.**
(Almost) A Tutorial
This isn’t exactly a tutorial, but we simply tacked penny rail to the existing hollow core door to create a frame. A bit of caulking was added around the trim and to cover the nail holes. Then we painted the “chalkboard” with chalkboard paint, and the door and penny rail received a coat or two of the same white paint. Voilà! Chalkboard.
And when I say “we”, I mean our patient handy man, who I’m pretty sure almost always thinks my ideas are kind of crazy. “You what me to do what? Okay, lady.”
Why It Works
Here’s what I love about my Kitchen Chalkboard Meal Planning System…
1. I can always find it.
This meal plan can’t be lost in stacks of paperwork, or hidden in one of my many spiral notebooks. Since I started writing the week’s meals on the pantry door, zero minutes have been lost in tracking down the current week’s meal plan.
2. Planning ahead is much simpler.
Have you ever started to prepare a meal only to realize that a key ingredient is still in the freezer, frozen solid, because you forgot to remove it the night before? Huge bummer.
Now that our meals are listed right there in my kitchen, it’s so much easier to remember what I need to do the night before, or the morning of.
3. Fewer questions to answer.
What’s for dinner, Mom? Look at the list. What are we having for breakfast? It’s on the door. What’s for lunch to–oh, right. Score one for Mom!
4. Lessons in flexibility.
While I typically do stick to the list, my one fear was this: if I publicly commit to certain meals, what happens when the plan changes at the last minute?
It turns out that my kids are receiving a lesson in flexibility. Yes, I know that’s what’s on the list, but here’s why I had to change the plan. Let’s just say that some of us in particular can benefit from lessons like these, myself included.
Some weeks I never made a meal plan at all and would just fly by the seat of my pants. That was mostly a disaster.
Now, I have several small people keeping tabs on my meal plan:
When are you writing the new plan, Mom?
Hey–is this still the same one from last week?
It really helps to keep me moving forward!
Bonus: Ratings and Reviews
Older Brother likes to add commentaries such as “yes!”, “no”, “yum” and you get the idea. When Middle Bro learns to spell, I’m sure he’ll add his two cents, too. Now I can determine public opinion with a simple glance at that week’s ratings and reviews.
Less Brain Clutter
I love this new system! Mostly, meal planning now takes up fewer brain cells. And as a busy mom of busy kids, I need all the extra brain cells I can find!
Maybe you can’t (or don’t want to) install a chalkboard in your kitchen, but I bet there’s something you could do to achieve the same results.
Where and how could you designated a prominent place for a week’s worth of meal plans?
Kathleen Henderson is the yankee behind the homestead. Follow along as we grow real food and three boys while renovating a 20-acre farm in northern Virginia. Do you love homegrown food, Paleo-ish recipes, and natural living? You’re in good company! Let’s grow together…