Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Meal Planning and My Favorite App

I started meal planning shortly after my daughter was born almost 4 years ago. It became clear to me quickly, that if I didn't have it planned out, dinner would either not get made (we didn't have a child to feed yet since she was just nursing), or would be a poor excuse for the dinners I had envisioned making.

In an attempt to live up to the visions I had of myself, or better yet, just in an attempt to make sure we were eating something healthy...well something at all, I started meal planning.

I make my meal plan on Sundays for the week ahead. I also make a grocery list at the same time for the items I need to make all of these meals. I typically grocery shop on Monday so this works well for me. I generally like a crockpot meal in there once a week, and this meal often yields a leftover dinner too. I try to incorporate as many items we already have on hand as I can to keep the grocery budget happy. I also have many, many tried and true favorite recipes now, but I still like to throw in one or two new ones each week so we don't get bored eating, and I don't get bored cooking.

Since getting an iPhone last summer (don't be haters android peeps!), I have fallen in-love with the Cozi app. This is how I do my grocery list. This app is A.W.E.S.O.M.E. It has a calendar, grocery lists, to do lists...but the best part - it syncs with my hubby's phone so we can both see everything at any time. We can see the calendar and what is on the family social agenda, we can both see and add to (or check off) the grocery list, Costco list, Target list...we can both see, add to, check off the to do lists. It is really great. And best of all, it was free. I promise Cozi is not paying me for this plug, nor do they even know who this lil blogger is, but this app has made our life way easier. I love always having my grocery list with me, and hubs likes being able to add deodorant to it when he runs out, or peanut butter, or... It's also a nice way to organize the kids' activities. Each person gets a color code on the calendar and you can quickly glance and see who has what and when. For hubs, it is also convenient for him to see as he schedules client appointments, while taking into consideration our family plans for the weekend, etc. This app is on android  and blackberry too, and you can also access it from a computer.

Now back to my meal planning...I hang the week's meal plan for all to see on the side of the cupboard (well now on my chalkboard fridge!!). I am not rigid with this plan. If I get up on Tuesday and Thursday's dinner sounds way better, I have no problem swapping things around. We have all the ingredients already for all of the meals so when it is made in the week does not matter much - just that it gets made. We waste far less food this way, and buy far less food on impulse that we don't need.

I prefer weekly planning. I tried monthly about a year ago and it was too much for me. A friend of mine recently told me she does it biweekly and I may try that so I don't have to go to the store every week. Find what works for you and let me know what does. Or if you are a veteran meal planner, let me know how you handle it and what has worked well. I'd love to know!

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