It’s funny how much our lives revolve around food. Don’t believe me? Just try to ignore your stomach for a day and see how it reacts. Our house is no exception.

In hopes of being better prepared and of trying to save a few pennies, a few months ago I decided to create a meal schedule for our family at the end of each week (as I typically grocery shop on Saturdays). Although we are not always successful in our meal planning attempts, we have noticed that it seems when we sit down to plan out our meals we have a less hectic, more peaceful week. This probably has to do with it necessitating a hashing out of who’s home what night and what lies ahead for the week. The best part? As Trevor loves food just as much as I do, he takes a relatively active role in helping make suggestions for our upcoming courses, thus giving us a wonderful little bit of time to spend together. When we sit down we usually transcend food and end up talking about the weeks past, where we’d like our futures to go, laughing at the stupidest things, thinking of people to share our meals with, and just about everything else. Who needs a movie? That’s what I call quality time.

On the more practical “how to” level:

  • I wouldn’t recommend scheduling more than 2 weeks at a time due to the ever changing nature of our lives. Our weeks tend to become more full, not less.
  • Try to plan meals around what’s in season. You’ll find your taste buds, figure, and budget will thank you for it.
  • If you really want to help your budget out, read the sales adds for your grocery store of choice and plan around what’s on sale.
  • Think well rounded meals. Although this is a typical outcome of meal planning (not many people plan to eat crud on a common bases, but do so out of convenience), it’s also a great chance to get a jump start on eating more vitamin and nutrient rich foods.
  • Don’t plan more meals than what you’ll be home for. No one likes rotten food in the fridge
  • Try to subtract at least one meal from how many you think you need. Usually at least one meal you make during the week will have leftovers.
  • Think of who will be attending which meals. If it’s just going to be the two of us, I try to make 2.5-3 servings. One for each of us and one more just in case the hubby is a little extra hungry. If he’s not, I get to enjoy the fruits of my labor for lunch the next day instead.
  • Find a place in sight to remind you what your week looks like (trust me, it will help remind you of more than food).
  • Make sure you don’t just cycle the same 10 dishes over and over again (it’ll be pretty easy to tell). There’s a reason that we eat junk — it’s because the real food gets monotonous without our even knowing (which is sad as there are infinite EASY possibilities to try).
  • Find out what kind of list works best for you. If you like spreadsheets, access, or palm pilot programs then use them to your advantage.