3 Steps to Your Easy Meal Plan or …

… how meal planning gives me an extra 90 minutes each week!

What would you do with an extra 90 minutes each week? Would you read a good book? Would you spend that time with your kids? Would you hit the gym and do a little cardio? No doubt you’d rather spend that 90 minutes doing something fun, not spending it grocery shopping.

 

 

Meal planning Pinterest-2

 

Years ago, I was no fan of meal planning. In the meantime however, it has become a great habit, which has saved my family a lot of money and time over the years.

Before we had children and were living in Switzerland, we worked full-time. In Switzerland, people tend to eat a big lunch and then a small dinner – cold meat and cheese with bread or a soup. Our workplaces offered a canteen so we typically ate there for lunch. There was no real reason to meal plan.

The weekend was the only time we really cooked, and that was if we didn’t go out. A few times I tried to implement meal planning, but it just wasn’t for me. I was also under the misconception that meal planning would take away any flexibility, spontaneity and freedom. I mean what if I wanted one thing but planned for something else?

You know what’s coming … once we had kids, everything changed! It didn’t happen right away of course. It actually happened after we moved to Australia… a whole new culture to contend with. You see, I was a stay-at-home mom with two toddlers (one and three years old). My husband’s workplace offered a canteen but he’d rarely eat there. And, this is when I found myself cooking dinner every single night.

It was becoming quite clear that meal planning may be a good idea after all. So, I started it and tried several things. When you check out Pinterest, you get all kinds of ideas and pictures on meal planning systems. The reality though is who has time for doing all of this so elegantly and beautifully? I don’t, and I don’t really care to do it so creatively. If you are the creative type, more power to you and have fun!

Let me share what worked for me.

 

3 Helpful Tips To Create Your Own Easy-To-Follow Meal Plans

 

Do Your Math

Meal planners are going to tell you that you save yourself a ton of time. However, I’m a bit of a skeptic so I sat down and did some calculations. If I did a weekly plan and the grocery shopping takes me roughly an hour and half each week for a family of four (combining my trip with a school run and shopping), I spent about 78 hour or three and quarter days a year doing this.

If, for some reason, I have to shop more than once a week, I’d still need approximately the same amount of time to do the shopping. However, no meal plan and a trip to the grocery store all the time would take me three hours a week or nearly one week a year. And, that cuts into my work hours or dragging the kids to the shop. Talk about added stress there!

So, what did I learn? I learned that meal planning is a big payoff for both me and my family.

school equation with apples

 

 

Find Your Best Day For Meal Planning and Grocery Shopping

I used to do my meal planning on a Monday morning before school and doing the shopping first thing after the school run. Right now, I am doing my meal planning on Saturday. We talk about the next week over breakfast and consider what everybody’s plans are … sports, business trips, doctor visits, extracurricular activities, etc.

For instance, I don’t cook fish on Monday night because one of the boys and hubby come home after 7 p.m. My other son and I don’t want to eat that late and have dinner shortly after 6 pm. Keeping this kind of meal warm is not an option. And, I don’t feel like cooking twice. Therefore, I need a meal I can re-heat or keep warm easily, such as a one pot meal (find interesting recipes here).

I then pick the menus. During school holidays, each boy gets to choose the meals for one week. This encourages them to help with the cooking and, in my eyes, learn an important skill without even noticing. I see it as an added bonus.

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Find A Planning System That Works For You 

I tried meal planning using my computer, but I found that didn’t work for me. And, doing a paper and pencil system seemed too wasteful and time consuming (of course you could keep the plans and re-use them some weeks later).

What I did was create little cards using thick paper, printed the meals on them, laminated them and cut them into card size. You could also use empty laminated cards and write on them using a whiteboard marker.

I then used a cheap Ikea photo frame and put some fabric in the frame behind the glass, painted seven wooden pegs and glued them onto the glass. I didn’t bother writing the names of the days on them since we know the first day is Monday. Now, all I have to do is add one card per day. The board is situated in the kitchen and everybody can see it.

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Our Meal Plan

My meal planning doesn’t include breakfast or lunches. That’s because breakfast is generally the same every day. As for lunches, I don’t list them on the plan but they are considered. I don’t like giving our kids sandwiches. Perhaps that’s a cultural thing because, in Switzerland, we don’t have them for lunch. Rather, I give them the night before’s leftovers. I give them their food in Tupperware Heat ‘N Eat containers so they can use the school’s microwave to re-heat them.

Once I’m done with the planning, I make the shopping list, which can be done quickly. I go shopping and that’s it for the week. I rarely ever have to visit the shops again during the week for fresher vegetables and/or meat. If stored right, you can keep vegetables and fruit fresh for the week and I freeze the meat.

 

 

 

Extra Time Saver Tip: Combine Your Errands
Try combining your grocery shopping with other errands to save yourself time and petrol money.

Errands List

 

 

 

Remember earlier when I said I was afraid of losing my freedom, flexibility and spontaneity? Well, doing this for several years now, I can tell you that this just isn’t true. I am still flexible, and in fact often do move menus around the week. However, since everything is at home already, I don’t need to do any last minute shopping trips.

 

What kind of meal planning system do you use (if any)? What works for you? What doesn’t work for you? If you have a picture of your system, I’m sure we’d all love to see it!

What you need to know before starting with the KonMari method

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8 Things You Should

So, you’ve decided to declutter your life using the KonMari method, pioneered by Marie Kondo in her bestseller “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”.

When I was reading the book for the first time, I was a sceptic. About 18 months later, I decided to read it again and give it a shot. Why? It’s because it stroke a chord with me. I’m still on my journey, and I’ve learned all kinds of things. For this post, I am going to share with you a few things that are important to know or do before you begin the process.

 

It’s Going To Take Time

The KonMari Method will help you to tackle your entire house…not just one room or one junk drawer. You’ll work by category; not by room. And, this is going to take a little time. Okay, a lot of time! According to Marie Kondo, it takes people an average of six to 12 months to complete the entire process. You can do it faster or go for a longer period of time. There’s no right or wrong way. If you’re a single, it’ll take you less time than say a family of four with two kids under the age of five. It’s not going to be done within a week so don’t beat yourself up too much when you find yourself stalling at certain points. In order for good progress to be seen, I also think you need to be in the right frame of mind and mood. So don’t force it.

 

The Truth About The Magic

Marie Kondo said it’s a once-off project. The reality is that you must declutter and organise your stuff as well as creating new habits to ensure you maintain your new “way of life”. There’s no magic wand, and you’re constantly going to be maintaining your space. Think of it as dieting. You reach your goal but you still need to do maintenance to ensure you keep the weight off. You can’t go back to your previous way of eating and think you’ll keep off the pounds.

 

It’s Not Going To Be Easy

It’s not going to be easy but you’ll need to let some things go. Of course, the reason I like the KonMari method so much is that it puts attention on things that I’d like to keep and give me joy. This ensures I can let things go that don’t give me that joy a little easier. Marie Kondo suggests to thank the items you’re letting go for their service before you actually get rid of them. It may sound funny but you should try it. You don’t have to say your thanks aloud; just do it in your head.

 

It’ll Be Overwhelming

If you go by the book, you’re going to feel overwhelmed by it all. In the first category of the book and looking at the massive pile of clothes you need to contend with, you’re going to feel exasperated and tired already. And, I cannot blame you for feeling this way. I did when I carried out the category. Of course, it’s doable and the idea is to recognise how much stuff you have and remember you need to let some of it go.

It might not always be realistic to follow the process in such a strict manner. Not everybody has the luxury for a whole uninterrupted day or more to sort their stuff. You may need to work in small increments. In order to do this, you may need to break it down into sub-categories. If you start with the clothes, begin with your shirts. This means pulling out all the tops – jumpers, t-shirts, shirts and blouses. If you still find this too much, only do one of them and go from there.

 

Deal With Your Stuff, and Only Your Stuff

If you’re not living on your own, don’t touch the stuff that’s not yours. Begin with the things that are yours such as clothes, books, paperwork, etc. If you have a partner, they may actually join you with the project…especially if they like to see what’s happening. When my husband saw my sock and underwear drawer, he asks me to fold his clothes the same way. If you’ve got children, involve them in the process when it’s their stuff you tackle. You might be positively surprised by how well they understand that process.

 

Be Mindful Of The Paperwork

In the book, Marie Kondo is quite strict about the paperwork. And, I really don’t have an issue with this. But, you need to be mindful about your national and local laws and guidelines. Make sure you know what’s expected of you before you go ahead with this category. You should never throw out personal documents like marriage, birth and divorce certificates. While you can reorder your certificates, it is not always easy to do.

 

Take Some Time To Do A Little Reflecting

There are going to be instances when something you have clearly makes you happy or not. However, it’s not always easy to see, and that’s where you need to slow down and do a little reflecting. Remember, you want to keep the things in your life that make you happy. If you’re not sure if something is doing this for you, lay it down and focus on it another time. Have an “Unsure” box and choose a date to decide on it. This is especially important when you’re doing the sentimental category.

 

There’s No KonMari Police

You will probably benefit the most if you go by the book. However, don’t take things too seriously! If you don’t want to fold your clothes the KonMari way, don’t do it. Do what you like and what will work for you. Remember there’s no right or wrong way. You won’t be fined if you don’t do exactly as Marie Kondo suggests or keep things that don’t always spark joy.

 

I hope you find these tips helpful as you begin your own KonMari journey. And, it really is a journey. You’re going to find that your way of thinking is going to change. It may or may not be life-changing. Whatever happens to you, I’d love to hear from you. Have you gone through the process?

I wish you all the very best!

 

Related posts:

My KonMari Journey – Part 1 – Clothes
My KonMari Journey – Part 2 – Books
Should You Apply the KonMari Method for Your Printed Photos?

 

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