Meal Planning for 8: My Tools of the Trade

Tools of the Trade Button

So, my last post on meal planning was more light-hearted, but, considering I’m planning on making my first big grocery shopping trip for the month on Friday, I’m afraid I have to buckle down and actually accomplish something in this post. {Actually, I’ve spent the last hour or so accomplishing something in real life, so I can blog about it on this post, but I digress!}  Or in other words: my mind is going “Ahhhhhhhhh!! They expect me to feed them!”, which always sends me into something of a tizzy.

I’ll be honest, completely honest, with you. I want to have to do as little work as humanly possible to actually figure out what on earth I am going to feed my family each night. {Bet you never would have guessed, would you have?}  So although I spent years and years {and years and years… I’ve been doing this for almost eleven years in my own home so… } printing out paper after paper designed to be the most efficient, user friendly meal planner EVER, I don’t use printed paper any more.

For a long time, I used an online program to save all of my recipes and meal planning {check them out here on my sponsor’s page!} but, again, I am terminally incapable of doing something that requires that much dedication! 

Seriously… there’s got to be something wrong with me.

After floundering around for a while here and there, and then I read Paperless Home Organization by Mystie Winckler. {Which happens to be on sale for 40% off right now! Click here to view more details*}  Trust me, there’s a review coming in the future, but suffice it to say that I d.e.v.o.u.r.e.d this book and immediately gave myself a virtual Gibbs for not having figured this out all on my own.

{for those of you who don’t know, a ‘Gibbs’ is an almost affectionate smack on the back of the head… the reference is from NCIS, so don’t feel bad if you don’t get it.}  

Once I figured out that I had been doing my meal planning all wrong, for my family anyway, I buckled down and got to work. And, wouldn’t you know that it took me less than an hour start to finish to plan out two complete weeks {breakfast/snack/ lunch/ supper} of meals along with my complete grocery list?

Now for the part you’ve all been waiting for: what I use!


Meal Plan Screen Shot

{Why yes, that’s the beginning of Mystie’s outline for Paperless Home Organization right there… thank you for noticing!}*

In this particular example, you are seeing my master pantry list, which is based off of Mystie’s Simplified Home Dinners {the gluten & dairy free version}*. Again, there is definitely a review of this coming in the future, but it helps to work out the same exactly way I want my meal planning to function: shopping for the pantry first, then cooking from what I have on hand. {Just a side note, Mystie offers the Master Pantry Lists for free on her website, along with samples of each of her books, so you can get a general idea of what I’m shopping for.} In my experience, this is so much cheaper and more cost effective than trying to shop from recipes because in this type of meal planning, you adjust your recipes to what you have on hand instead of searching out, and purchasing, ingredients for just one or two meals. Evernote {which is free, btw} is perfect for shopping list application because….

Screen Capture 2

It syncs straight to my Android phone, where I can check off the items that I already have in my pantry before I leave, then check off the rest as they enter the buggy at the grocery store. {Oh please, don’t berate me because my battery is dead on my phone… again. I have a problem with things that must be done repetitively, remember?} Another great thing about Evernote is that I can just right click and send a blank copy of whichever list I’m shopping to my inbox without having to rewrite the entire thing (or uncheck and recheck the whole list). I like right click simplicity!

Google Calendar

Meal Plan Calendar Screen Shot

 OH! The beauty of yet another free tool that works where ever I find myself. *sigh* They just make me happy! 

So- this calendar is showing two weeks, starting with lunch on the 5th {which happens to be my designated shopping day!} because this is what I’m shopping/planning/dreading right this moment. I made a separate calendar, with it’s own color, to house my meal plan. This is accessible on the computer and on my phone as well, and doesn’t depend on my actually saving information to a drive because it is stored online. I assign times to each meal, so when I lay out the rest of my calendars, I can see how it all fits in together. Breakfast and lunch get an extra color assignment, but this is really just for my visual pleasure, not out of any form of necessity.

Eh– when I think about how long I had these programs lazing around, not doing a quarter of what they were capable of, it makes me hang my head. Luckily, I’ve figured out that I can make them do all the work {Except for entering in information every now and again} while I spend my time doing things I want to do…

…like blogging about making my electronics do the deed I dread.


So tomorrow is shopping day! I have my list all ready and a good idea of the meals I can make from it! Are you prepared?

My shopping challenge is 10 days of groceries for under $300. {Yes, I realize how expensive that sounds, but it’s time for the major shopping trip of the month and I live in a houseful of bottomless pits!} With my preparations, I’m confident I’ll be able to reach my goal! 

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