How to Create a Meal Plan that Works For You

So, you’ve recently decided to take the plunge! You’re married! And suddenly, you aren’t just feeding your own mouth, but you have that hunk of a husband who needs to be fed as well. Where do you start? Do you stick to your world of grilled cheese sandwiches and freezer meals? What about only visiting the grocery store when your cupboards are bare or whenever you’re craving a huge tub of Tillamook ice cream?

Well, I’m here to say that there is a better way!

After Orion and I got engaged, one of the first things we did was try and find a place to live. Married housing can be sparse at BYU, and definitely can be a bit pricy. We were blessed and quickly found a perfect little almost-basement apartment for us to live in, and Orion moved in a month before we got married.

Once he moved in, we started to spend the majority of our time there. I would get home from work an hour before he did, and I quickly noticed that when he got home, he was very hungry and needed to eat! I quickly caught on, and decided that I wanted to have dinner ready when he got home.

I wasn’t sure quite where to start. Rather than living off of grilled cheese and freezer meals, I always preferred kale salads and baked sweet potato fries. My husband didn’t quite share my love of sweet potato fries, and he hadn’t even tried kale before!

So, I turned to every woman’s favorite encyclopedia: Pinterest.

I had used the same Pinterest account since I was thirteen and had over ten thousand pins. I quickly set up a new account with my new name, and got to pinning things that would be compatible with both of our diets.

Yet, each day as I arrived home and thought about what we should eat for dinner, I occasionally became frustrated because I either couldn’t decide, or because we didn’t have the ingredients necessary to make what I really did want to eat. That’s when I quickly turned to meal planning.

I always thought that meal planning was something unnecessary. I thought of it as something that only high-maintenance women utilized because they couldn’t manage to simply cook, or for those who were simply trying too hard to be perfect.

Well I was completely, utterly, one hundred percent WRONG.

Meal planning is straight salvation!

As a working college student, my schedule is jam packed! I work in the mornings, go to class in the afternoons, and by the time I get home at five-thirty, I am exhausted and stressed at all the homework that still awaits me. With a meal plan, I can mentally prepare before I arrive home for what I’m going to be cooking, and I can meal prep throughout the week, making for a much easier dinnertime.

I decided to set aside some time every Saturday morning for planning the next week’s meals. Through meal planning, I also find that my grocery list assembles itself. And please tell me that I’m not the only one who has difficulties making my own grocery list… I always end up with either more food than I need, not enough, and usually with some things that I never even get around to eating before it goes bad. Whoops.

So with a meal plan on my fridge and a grocery list in hand, I can confidently make a trip to the supermarket to only buy the things that I will use throughout the next week.

Currently, I only meal plan for one week at a time because that is simply works best for me. For others, maybe planning for two weeks would work best. I hope to eventually reach that point, but for now, this is perfect.

Now…How exactly are you going to do this? How will you transform your life from grilled cheese on the daily to healthier, more put together meals? Well. I’m going to encourage you to do the same thing I did.

First things first, talk to your spouse. Find out what foods they prefer to eat frequently, and what foods they prefer to leave out of their diet entirely. Orion strongly dislikes tomatoes, so I know that whenever a recipe calls for tomatoes, I either need to leave them out, or separate some for my own plate.

Second of all, turn to Pinterest or any cookbook that you love. I really don’t know how women did it before Pinterest. That website has just about everything a woman could ever need to be a successful housewife. So, either pick up a cookbook, or head to Pinterest and start to organize all of the recipes you would like to make. (You can get some inspiration from my Pinterest boards here.) I even ended up starting a spread sheet from my Pinterest boards that I could browse a condensed list instead of having to pillage through a variety of boards to find the recipe I wanted.

Thirdly, if you want to make things reeeeaaallllly simple for yourself, I suggest that you use themes throughout the week. For example, on Mondays, we eat Mexican food. What that means for me, is that when I’m meal planning for Monday, I don’t have to choose from any recipe I want. I just have to decide on a Mexican dish. Tuesdays we eat breakfast for dinner. Wednesdays we try and eat salad. Fridays we eat pizza. And so it goes on. We still leave a couple days open for new foods and things we really want to try, but for the most part, we use themes to make it easier for me to meal plan.

I also suggest that you make your grocery list as you meal plan. You added something to the meal plan? Now review the recipe, and mentally go through your fridge and pantry. Is it not in there? Add it to the grocery list! By the end of your weekly meal planning session, you should already have the majority of your grocery list, and you shouldn’t over or under buy anything! Miracles really do happen!

To help you in your meal planning journey, I have linked a few of my favorite products below that help me with planning. Sometimes, writing my meal plan and grocery list on a sticky note or a piece of paper can be catastrophic. I typically lose it and have to start all over again. *facepalm* So having it on something that looks a bit more official, makes it easier for me to keep track of.

You can stick these on your fridge, or even put it up on a wall. Both are great options!

Hope this helps! Have any other meal planning tips or questions? I would love to hear them below!

(We own that first one and LOOOOOVE it! I think I must be in a marble phase right now…)

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