Meal planning is not something I have been doing. I tend to go to the grocery store, buy food I know my picky husband and kids will eat, and hope I didn’t over spend on groceries, which I usually do.We have fallen into a food rut lately eating the same four meals over and over again and relying heavily on broccoli as a vegetable, so when Merissa from Little House Living asked me to review her meal planning book I jumped on the opportunity!
We have been dealing with a lot of health stuff here and I have been wanting to get serious about GAPS diet but I just can’t seem to get all the things I need prepared and ready to get going. Instead I decided to try out an auto-immune paleo month with my husband in hopes of kicking our healing journey into gear and getting more serious about our health. This requires a lot of planning, especially with a picky husband, to get the nutrients we need and to plan the meals so that we eat everything before it spoils.
In Meal Planning Made Simple, Merissa discusses three different types of meal plans and what will work best for your situation.
The meal plan types she discusses are:
- Weekly: For the person who likes to shop weekly sales, who eats real fresh food, or eats seasonally and likes to shop at farmers markets.
- Once Every Two Weeks: For the person who shops in bulk, uses staples when cooking, and has a day to commit to cooking every two weeks.
- Once a Month Meal Planning: For the person who has space to devote to prepared meals, hectic schedule that requires time away from home, have a day to devote to creating meals each month.
I definitely fall into the first category. We have been shopping like we are in category two for a while now but that just tends to lead to rotten vegetables in the back of the fridge and wasted money. So I printed out her work sheets at the back of the book.
She includes a meal planning worksheet for each of these plans to help you plan what meals you are eating each day. They have a little space for breakfast and lunch, and a bigger space for dinner.
The next step is to plan out your meals.
Here is what this week’s dinners looks like (though I planned out every meal for the whole week):
- Sunday: Homemade pork sausage and sautéed rainbow chard, onions, garlic and fennel, and sour kraut
- Monday: Turmeric curry baked chicken with butternut squash, and carrot ginger sour kraut
- Tuesday: Beef Stir Fry with Mixed Veggies and acorn squash and sour kraut
- Wednesday: Turkey with paleo sausage stuffing, sweet potatoes, carrots, and asparagus
- Thursday: Turkey soup with vegetables and sour kraut
- Friday: Beef flank steak with roasted fennel and beets, and carrot ginger sour kraut
- Saturday: Baked chicken legs, squash and sour kraut
We don’t actually eat these foods on these exact days BUT I do have the ingredients for them in my fridge, so I know what we have in the house and what I can easily make each day.
She then suggests you plan a baking day. She advises that the baking day should not be the same day as your shopping day or you will get exhausted.
I TRIED to plan my baking day for Saturday but after writing all day and taking care of the family all night I did not have time. On Sunday I planned to do some baking so that my husband could have lunches for the week and I could at least make my sour kraut and I got it all done but it was a hassle. It is really hard to cut out time from a really busy schedule to just cook. I think it would be easier if I sent the husband and kids off somewhere for half the day while I could just commit to cooking. As it is I finished enough food for my husband to eat at work for three days this week. He will be having left overs the rest of the week which is fine by him. I made some healthy at work snacks for him as well, pre-made some grain free pumpkin pancake batter for my daughter to eat throughout the week, made some grain free muffins for snacks for my daughter, started a batch of chicken bone broth and made 3 batches of sour kraut. This took me about 5 hours that I had spaced out through the day while taking care of a sick baby, an energetic toddler, and a husband with a work deadline. What I am saying is this CAN be done. You just have to commit to it and set expectations.
She goes on to discuss how meal planning can help save money, how to utilize meal planning eating seasonally.
There is a great seasonal produce chart, and a chart about how long foods last in the freezer, which is a very handy guide to have on the fridge when you buy in bulk.
She discusses the challenges that come along with meal planning like having no time, the idea that you might have to rely on processed foods, busy life style, and more and discusses solutions to each of these problems. This was really helpful to me. It make me really be honest with my self about the meal planning and come to understand that yes I DO have time to do this, I just have to make it clear to my husband that I need time to make the plan and do some food prep ahead of time.
I really appreciate the detail she puts into these plans, and the examples she includes to make the book accessible and easy to use.
The forms are detailed enough to let you know exactly what you will be eating for the next week, pay period, or month without being overwhelming.
She includes easy recipes for the grain eaters out there for things like bread and tortillas to make on baking day and save some money in the process.
It is a great organization process for those of us who might otherwise be not-quite-so-on-top-of-things.
If you would like to buy this great book it is very reasonably priced at $4.99 but for a limited time you can use the coupon code MEALPLAN for $1 off! You can purchase it by Clicking here to visit Little House Living..
Meressa was kind enough to offer a giveaway of this book to my readers! All you have to do is fill out the rafflecoptor form to enter to win! Be sure you enter an e-mail address that you check often.
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