MEAL PLANNING FOR FREE SPIRITS
By Laura A, Contributing Writer
I love meal planning. I love organisation, charts, color coding…ahhhhh. I’m quirky like that.
Meal planning saves time, money, and stress by eliminating last minute decisions and trips to the store. It allows you to have a precise grocery list, which discourages impulse purchases and ensures that you will have all of the ingredients you need. I highly recommend it to all homemakers.
The most frequent objection to meal planning is “But I like to be spontaneous!”
Meal planning can work for free spirits too! It may look different, but that’s okay. It’s all about what works for you in your home. Even if you’re a free spirit, it will save you time that you would have spent making emergency trips to the grocery store. You’ll save effort by not having to stress about coming up with a new idea every day. You’ll also save money by not needing to go to the store as often.
Some hardcore meal planners will plan out EVERYTHING: breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner, and coffee time. If you are a free spirit, doing it that way is going to drive you insane. It can be tempting to just chuck the whole idea out the window, but I encourage you to try another form of meal planning instead.
7 Tips For The Homemaker Who Likes To Be Spontaneous
1. Focus on dinners
For most people, dinner is the most elaborate meal of the day. If you only plan one meal, this is where you will get the most reward for your effort. I try to plan my sides as well as the entree.
2. Choose your meals
I have a husband and a 10-month-old who doesn’t eat large portions yet, so we usually have leftovers. Most of our leftovers turn into work lunches for my husband. You could also plan to follow the “cook once, eat twice” method and save your leftovers for another dinner. Since we don’t do that, I cook six new dinners each week, and then we have one leftovers night. Typically leftovers night is on the weekend.
One option for making a weekly meal plan is to create themes and then choose meals accordingly. For example, you could plan to have some form of Mexican food one night, a slow cooker meal on the two nights when you usually work late, Italian food one night, etc. If you intend to make meal planning a lifestyle, choosing themes can make the recipe selection part of the process go more quickly.
3. Make a list of your selected meals and put it somewhere that you will see it
My husband got a magnetic whiteboard for free at work recently, so I write my list of meals on that. It attaches to the freezer, which is quite convenient. Before I had that, I usually wrote out my meal plan on a piece of notebook paper and then attached it to the refrigerator with a magnet.
4. Make your grocery list
Check your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer as you go, being sure to note which items you already have. You might be surprised at what you find. When finances are tight, plan your meals around ingredients that you already have. Sometimes that’s referred to as a pantry challenge. It really does work for keeping costs down.
5. Go shopping
Stick to the list. I know it’s hard, but it’s one of the beautiful things about meal planning. You don’t end up buying things that you don’t need. Don’t go to the store while you’re hungry because that makes impulse purchases more tempting.
6. Each day, choose one of your meal options
See? This is where the free spirit thrives. Like any type of routine or schedule, the meal plan is meant to bring freedom, not bondage. It does not mean that you MUST always have meatloaf for dinner on Mondays and tacos on Tuesdays every single week, forever and ever, world without end. You are still making an active decision each day. The choice is just slightly narrowed to one of seven options.
7. Erase or cross off your meal options as you use them
On the first day, there will be seven options. On the second day, you’ll choose from the six remaining options. Since I use a whiteboard, I erase as I go. If you’re using a regular piece of paper, crossing them off works too. You just want it to be clear what you still need to use.
If you’re a free spirit, give this form of planning a try. You just might like it!
My name is Laura and I love my family, good books, and good coffee. Right now I’m in a season of homemaking. 1st Corinthians 10:31 says “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” Thus, this blog is titled Homemaking for His Glory. My desire is to bring glory to Him in all things, even the seemingly mundane. I hope my blog is a blessing to you!