Today, we are talking ALLLLL about meal planning decisions! Nope, not the decisions of what to have for dinner – you’ll get to that soon, I promise. First, you need to make some initial decisions to ensure you are building a strong meal planning foundation. So before you even bust out your cookbooks, you need to think through some important things.
· Why are you meal planning?
· How often are you going to meal plan?
· When are you going to meal plan?
Why Are You Meal Planning?
This is the most important question you need to ask yourself. The answer to this question keeps you meal planning week after week. Here’s some reasons to consider:
· You want to stop eating out 5 out of 7 nights a week
· You want to actually go to the grocery store with a plan
· You want to improve your cooking skills
· Insert your reason here
· All of the above
Whatever reason(s) you are choosing to start the journey of meal planning - write them down. Come on, right now, write them down. Now post them in a place you will see them on the regular - could be on the inside of your pantry door or on the front of your fridge. Remembering seeing your why day after day will help keep your momentum long after your motivation to meal plan has left. Here’s the truth, you will lose motivation to meal plan at some point. But seeing your why each day, coupled with the meal planning habits you are creating and the tools you are receiving, will help keep your momentum moving forward.
How Often Are You Going To Meal Plan?
The answer is simple - it’s up to you. Need a reference point? Think about how often you want to go to the grocery store. Once a week? Once every few days? In my experience, it’s easiest to meal plan once a week. I have 3 girls which means going to the grocery store multiple times a week is NOT an option, unless I want to lose my mind every day. My family also lives on fresh fruits and veggies, so going once a week allows for the right balance of fresh produce throughout the entire week. This might not work for you and that’s ok. Maybe you meal plan every few days instead – it’s all about timing and your time is valuable. So you chose how often you meal plan and go to the grocery store as a result.
Speaking of timing, fresh fruits and veggies have a typical “shelf life” of a week (sometimes less). Here’s a Pro Tip - buy your fruits and veggies at various stages of ripeness. Ripe or overripe produce should be eaten within a few days. Underripe produce will ripen and be ready to eat later in the week. Here's a resource I created providing tips and tricks on how to keep your produce fresh for longer.