Meal Plan Monday Post - How To

We're almost to the point of wrapping up the meal plans after the "blog summer black-out" and before they resume back to their weekly Monday post. This week is a bit of meal plan organization how-to (as promised last week) and then next week is a wrap up of October. Then it'll be back to business as usual.

I'm sure you can google "how to meal plan" and get a plethora of hits for suggestions on how to meal plan complete with template weekly meal plan lists. I'm not here to add to that. Today I'm here to tell you what I do and what works for us. In my opinion this is the best mindset to have for anything - do what works for you. So I'll tell you a little about what we're doing and how we got there.

The Meal Plan ... is an email sent to Patrick and actually myself. This email contains the meal plan and varies for how long it covers. Originally the email was only being sent to Patrick but since I reference it so much throughout the week I realized how much of a hassle it was to constantly be going into the sent box folder to find the email since Patrick rarely replies to it so by emailing it to myself (and also starring it in gmail) I can access it easily. Why do I access it so much throughout the week? Because I hyperlink all the meals that I can - whether it be back to a blog post or a new recipe - and use that to cook with.

The CSA helps keep the Meal Plan on a week-long rotation. I don't like to meal plan for days past a CSA pick-up day therefore I usually meal plan on the day I submit our weekly order for the box. Our CSA has you submit your weekly order on Monday and pick up the box on Thursday. So I usually make the meal plan on Monday, do grocery shopping Tuesday or Wednesday, and then utilize that meal plan with our veggies picked up on Thursday from that day until the next Thursday. Therefore making a meal plan always overlaps with an "active" meal plan. So that means sometimes I may change the last few days of one meal plan and switch things around to accommodate the vegetables differently. The meal plan is always fluid and always up for change.

Before I started consistently emailing the meal plan I was recording it in a notebook while also simultaneously emailing Patrick. It was important for Patrick to be in the loop because if he needed to start on dinner one night then he would know what we were having and where to find the recipe. Seeing that we're all crunched for time these days you may guess that keeping up with two meal plan methods (written and email) was just too much. Email won because it's also handy to compose the meal plan as I draft in the email compose box. This allows me to change / edit the meal plan days as I am figuring it out.

Another thing I learned to do is just keep replying to the same meal plan thread! The meal plan emails started while we were dating / engaged. The current email thread started right after we were married. Take a look:

Sorry this is so big! I wanted to have it enlarged so that you could see the email grab clearly. This thread is under the subject "Meal plan for my HUSBAND!" and was originally started on 8/21/13. As you can see there are 61 messages in the thread! ... I could write another long wordy post about loving gmail too.

A few other things to point out from the email grab. Notice that the dinner proteins are varied and spread out. For this week the order of proteins was - chicken, pasta with meat sauce, pizza, shrimp, sausage, and salmon. When I'm making the meal plan I am able to come up with my dinner ideas and then switch them throughout the days according to balancing them and also the preparation of the dishes.

In sum, I highly recommend meal planning! Find what works for you. Meal planning allows you to grocery shop for more meals and reduces stress throughout the week. It also cuts out the "I don't have anything planned for dinner, let's get take out" excuse.

Think I'm about rambled out! Go meal planning!

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