One thing I’ve learned about taking the advice of others is that doing things simply because someone says it’ll change my life doesn’t mean it will actually change my life. And following someone else’s favorite method isn’t always best. Usually, the best solution for me is my own adaptation of whatever advice or method is recommended.
It’s the same with meal planning. I don’t want you to follow my advice to the letter. And I don’t want you to try to meal plan exactly the way I do. You need to develop your own system that meets your own personal needs.
So first things first.
Start With Why
Before you dig into meal planning, answer this question: What is your single core purpose for meal planning? Knowing this will help you customize and personalize your meal planning method to fit your specific needs. If you’re following my meal planning method to the letter, you’re meal planning to meet my purpose, not your own.
Don’t skip through this part and go on. Take a little time and give it some real thought.
Maybe your purpose is to save money on groceries. Maybe it’s to serve healthy, home prepared meals each night. Or it could be to simply get dinner on the table at a certain time each night. There’s no right or wrong answer.
If you were to only get ONE single benefit from meal planning, what would you want that to be?
What outcome would make it worth the effort?
For me, my root purpose for meal planning is to make dinner prep easier and less overwhelming. All those other things are important too, but that’s my single root purpose. If dinner prep isn’t easier and less overwhelming, forget about healthy dinners or saving on groceries. I’d be to frazzled to care!
It wouldn’t be worth it for me to go through the time and effort.
Also, keep in mind that your single root purpose can, and will, change over time. I’m in a rather busy stage of life right now, and my kids are still little. And late afternoon/early evening seems to be a particularly challenging time for us. Which, of course, is about the time that I need to be able to focus on getting dinner ready. So I need solutions for making that time of day easier.
In summer, I focus more on solutions that let us spend more time outside. During the school year, I’m not so concerned about that as I am about ease of prep (basically, I want to use my brain as little as possible when it comes to dinner. Ha!)
As my kids get older, my purpose may change to be more centered around budgeting, or time saving, or healthy eating.
So before you really dig into choosing a method, selecting a planner, using a template, or compiling a beautifully organized meal planning binder, ask yourself “Why am I doing this?”. Because you know what? I don’t even use a fancy planner or binder. Those don’t get me any closer to my goal. I use plain old pencil and paper. No need to over-complicate the process!
Once you’ve figured it out – or if you need help figuring it out – come on over to the Facebook community where we have a closed group dedicated to sharing meal plan ideas, tips, wins, struggles, and inspiration!