I’m one of those people who loves to set goals. So, every Jan. 1, I sit down and write out my goals for the year. A few weeks later, like most people, I have already started going back to my old habits and losing track of whatever goals I set.
This year, I decided to do things differently. I realized I needed to set shorter goals and celebrate more once I had achieved them. There were several areas where I already failed in January, but I am taking a look at what went wrong and pressing the restart button for February. However, there was one area in which I had a big success: meal planning!
I’ve always been an off-and-on meal planner, and I’ve written about many of my meal planning attempts here on this blog. This time, I decided I would plan out all of my meals for an entire month. I printed them out on a piece of card stock and taped them on a cabinet next to the stove. For me, making my plan look CUTE helps me with whatever I’m trying to accomplish!
I actually stuck to this meal plan almost 100 percent. There were a few times when we had to be out for dinner and ate at a restaurant, or we were invited to someone’s house for dinner. But I think we ate about 27 of the 30 meals I had planned!
Here are the reasons this really worked for us:
My husband and kids could see the meal plan each day. For my kids, they actually started looking forward to some of the meals that were coming up. They stopped asking, “What’s for dinner?” and just looked at the chart. If I wasn’t home, my husband could look at the chart, and he knew what to make for dinner. If he wasn’t sure how to make that day’s meal (my descriptions aren’t always the best), he could skip ahead one or two days and make something else on the plan.
I saved money on grocery shopping. With my monthly meal plan, I was able to go to the store at the beginning of the month and stock up on most of the meat and staples I would need for the entire month. I still had to go back to the store every week for milk, bread and produce, but I spent less at the grocery store because of my plan.
I’m hoping this will cut down on planning time in the future. Now that I have January planned out, I should be able to repeat some of those recipes in future months.
I did make a few mistakes. I jotted down meals as they came to my mind, without realizing that sometimes I was planning very similar meals two or three days in a row. I have three growing tweens/teens (plus a more picky preschooler), and quite honestly, they are so hungry that they didn’t seem to mind! I tried to do a better job in February though.
This month, I created categories for each day of the week. We often eat breakfast for dinner on Sunday because we don’t feel like cooking. Monday is Mexican. Tuesday is slow cooker. Wednesday is chicken. Thursday is Italian. Friday is all-American. and Saturday is Easy. I also spent a lot of time looking for new recipes. I printed them all out and put them in my Big Organizational Binder. I also created a Pinterest board for meal planning with all of this month’s recipes to help me in the future.
I also created a new shopping list on my computer. This allowed me to go through each recipe and fill in the ingredients that I need. I take a photo of my meal plan and my shopping list with my phone. This makes it really easy for me to go back to the store in the middle of the month to pick up fresh ingredients.
Right now, our life is extraordinarily jam packed. Our four kids are involved in school basketball, travel basketball, travel baseball, gymnastics team, gymnastics class for the preschooler, an after-school cooking club and youth group. My husband is an elder at our church, and I work part-time for our church. Plus, I’m spending a lot of volunteer hours helping out with the school talent show, and I’m also a room mom.
We often have one, two, three or even four activities happening in the evenings. So meal planning is HUGE for my sanity! We don’t always eat at the same time, but everyone has access to a meal before or after activities.
I love lists and charts so I also created some organizational tools that I use for chores and other goals. I know this doesn’t work for a lot of people, but having a cute chart telling me what to do each day makes a HUGE difference for me. A few people asked me on Facebook if they could have a copy, so here are those as well.
This is my weekly cleaning chart. I found that this is difficult to stay on top of every day, so I’m working on revising it for February:
This is the chore chart for my kids. We have a separate chart that lets us know whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher.
On my dishwasher chart, my kids’ names are written next to the circles. This hangs above our dishwasher, so there are no arguments about whose turn it is.
This is my reading list. It’s been my goal to read 12 books a year, and I am pretty good at accomplishing that! I take a photo of the list and keep it on my phone so I can remember what I’m looking for when I go to the library.
If you download any of my organizational tools, will you leave me a note in the comments section? I would love to know if you are going to try to use any of these. I also would love to hear how you stay organized. Do you meal plan? Do you have daily chores for yourself? Thanks!!