How I Meal Plan {& This Week’s Meal Plan} Aug. 31-Sept. 6

How I Meal Plan | Cozycakes CottageI always enjoy seeing how other people run their households.  An odd topic of intrigue maybe, but I love to see how others create/manage daily routines, organize their homes, budget, meal plan.  Sometimes I learn a whole new way to do things.  Often they share something that inspires me to tweak a routine that needs refreshing.  Or I pick up a step or two that are real time-savers so I can focus on bigger and better things.

I’ve been asked a few times to share some of my household routines and organization such as how I meal plan weekly.  While I hesitate because my household routines aren’t perfect  and I’ve not reinvented the wheel, I realize that, just as I learn from others, someone might glean a tip from even my basic routine.  So here’s how I meal plan:

How I Meal Plan Step 1 | Cozycakes Cottage1. Gather planning items:  The first thing I do (usually on Sunday or Monday) is place everything I’ll need on my kitchen table.  I choose the kitchen table for no other reason than it gets a lot of light from the windows and I can eat while I plan.  😉  I usually have my laptop (to look up recipes on my blog, other websites, or Pinterest), paper and pen to write my meal plan rough draft, my recipe binders and recipe box, any cookbooks I’ve pulled out for the week, and my Erin Condren Life Planner and Erin Condren meal plan insert.  It doesn’t hurt to have a cup of coffee by your side either.

My recipe box has recipes I turn to week after week.  They’re mostly basic soups and casseroles as well as simple sides.  For the most part, these recipes are memorized, but they’re handy to keep in the kitchen.

How I Meal Plan | Cozycakes CottageThe two recipe binders are oft-used as well.  One of them holds tried and true recipes including family recipes.  I hand write family recipes and I keep printed recipes or magazine pages in page protectors.  The second binder holds recipes I’d like to try which I’ve mainly pulled from magazines, but a few I’ve printed from websites.  Once I try a recipe from this binder, I’ll either transfer it to the tried and true binder or toss it depending on how it worked for us.  I keep these recipes in page protectors.

How I Meal Plan Step 2 | Cozycakes Cottage2. Assess items on hand:  Before making a full meal plan, I peek into the fridge to see what items/ingredients I already have on hand.  I also check out the fridge freezer and our upright freezer in the garage.  Then I poke around the pantry and kitchen pantry cupboards to see what items I can use from there.  Checking out these spaces is a great help when it comes to deciding on side dishes.  I used to stock the pantry and freezers with A LOT more.  But while I liked having extras around, I hated the clutter and how it took over these spaces.  Now I try to stick to just a few extras and shop week to week for necessary items.

How I Meal Plan Step 3 | Cozycakes Cottage3. Pull recipes from various resources:  Once I have a good idea of what ingredients I have on hand, I choose recipes from cookbooks, Pinterest or the internet, my binders, etc.  My favorite Gooseberry Patch cookbooks are featured in the photo above.  Each book has a theme such as a season, holiday, or maybe something like game day favorites.  I love to look through them each season.  The photo on the right includes some of my favorite books with classic, standard recipes.  Many of these books were wedding gifts and are great for new cooks.  While I’ve been cooking for years, I still reach for them time and again.

How I Meal Plan | Cozycakes Cottage4. Write out plan and grocery list:  Once I’ve reviewed my rough draft and made adjustments, I use a Vis-a-Vis marker and write the menu on the Erin Condren meal plan insert.  The marker dries quickly and I’m able to take it to the store with me (the back of the insert is for your grocery list) or pop it right into my planner for quick reference throughout the week.  I also write dinners on the proper day of the week in my planner.  I realize that’s doubling up, but I like to record meals in my planner for when I want to refer to previous weeks.

That pretty much sums up my current meal planning routine.  I might switch things up throughout the year, but any session varies on what I’ve shared today.  While I like to have a meal plan each week, I steadily rely on one in the fall and winter months.  They’re our busiest seasons and a plan keeps me from stressing about meals when we’re on the go.  I tend to relax about meal planning in the summer, but I often regret it if I don’t come up with even a skeleton plan.

I share my current meal planning routine in this video.  Thanks for watching and see ya soon!

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