Thank you to Erin from @celebrateplay for this guest post! I just know that you are going to find it so helpful. Leanne x
Do you feel the rhythm that comes with the beginning of a new month? The kind that puts a spring into your step? That time of season that has you catching up on old goals and/or setting new goals - the ones that align with your bigger picture. And for some, perhaps even the desire to do things differently with your everyday systems because there is room for improvement so y’all can fit more of the things that matter most to you.
For us at celebratePLAY, October is the month where we are tackling our meal planning system. You maybe wondering why October and this is quite simple...it is a great month to mix things up with our meal plans to accommodate the new seasonal produce and warmer weather. And truthfully, SPRING just has us high vibing the days away along with another round of P14 commencing.
Do you feel like this too? If so, read on my friends because we are sharing our top 10 tips for meal planning with intention so you have a cracking meal planning system and in turn, more time to do the things that matter the most to you.
#1. SCHEDULE BLOCKING - a strategy we use to maximise the time within a day to help us achieve *all* the tasks. This means scheduling a set amount of time (not necessarily a specific time) to plan our meals, write a grocery list, go shopping, unpack the shopping and cut, bake and/or prep food for the meals. This strategy is not just one limited to meal planning, it is one that can be used for almost every aspect of life.
#2. MEAL PLANNER ROTATION - the system we use for meal planning. This is not something we used when first jumping into meal planning but rather something that has come about more recently in life - insert MOTHERHOOD!!
We have a collection of weekly meal plans for a 5 week rotation. We use laminated templates secured to the interior of the pantry door, although the Daily Orders and OTFU ceramic wall planner is a more permanent way for this system to work. These meal ideas for us are a culmination of family favourites and new recipes. Although, my friends, you know those recipe posts, insta pics, pinterest posts saved on your phone...use these as the source of inspiration. Some of our favourite accounts are createbakemake and mylovelylittlelunchbox and I know, y’all love them just as much too. They are filled with sooo many easy and tasty recipes that are sure to be loved by your family and friends and for those that love the little ones helping in the kitchen, these are made just for that.
#3. PLAN FOR ALL THE MEALS & SNACKS - Our meal planners are not limited to dinner but are also in PLAY for breakfast, morning tea, lunchboxes and afternoon tea. This takes the thinking of what to eat daily, several times a day, away from the routine, giving us more time to do the things we love. It also makes writing the grocery list super quick and easy, again saving time.
#4. GROCERY LIST IN AISLE ORDER - Once our grocery shopping system was established and working well, we discovered a way to improve it, a way to give us back more time. We designed our shopping list in aisle order. This has made shopping rather efficient and can be done by anyone in the family.
#5. MEAL PLANNERS - Finding a meal planner that works for you is super helpful as it makes it a less mundane task to complete, helps to establish and maintain the meal planning routine, allows easy viewing for all family members to see, can allow for preparation ahead when entertaining or visitors turn up unexpectedly...really the benefits are endless. For those on the hunt for meal planners check out Daily Orders and Organising the Four of Us ceramic wall planner, LBD planners and Padtastic meal planners...all great options for the stationery lovers.
#6. STORAGE SYSTEMS - Creating systems that fit your spaces is important for maximising space, saving time, eliminating waste, reducing overwhelm and feeling that all important sense of achievement. Whether you be a glass or plastic container gal or a produce bag or container Mumma, finding a storage system/s that allows you easy access is going to serve you and your family well when it comes to meal planning and prep.
#7. PREPPING FOOD AHEAD OF TIME - ...so this is one area, I feel, we have saved the most time in. For this, it includes soaking produce in vinegar baths (helps to maintain longevity), having specific containers for specific items, chopping produce ahead of time, portion sizing meat for each meal (very fortunate our local butcher does this for us), double batch cooking to create a freezer stash, baking days with friends.
#8. BATCH IT!! - For those that are time poor with a hectic schedule, carving a chunk of time, to batch cook and/or bake multiple portions of food at once will be beneficial. Again, finding the right storage solutions, with the date recorded on the lid and perhaps a freezer inventory, are all ways to help you find time for the things that matter the most to you.
#9. THEMATIC FRIDGE & FREEZER - When we moved to using specific containers in the fridge and to creating lunchboxes daily for each family member and again with meal planning in general, we found it handy to organise the items into themes eg. One shelf for the lunch products, one shelf for fruit, another shelf for vegetables, a section for snacks, a section for opened products that needed to be consumed within a specific time frame, a section for frozen meals, sweets, savouries etc.
#10. LIST OF THREE - Did you know research claims by writing things down, helps to make it happen. We are more likely to follow through with action, be more productive and comprehend new ideas and we love this being avid lifelong learners. As many of you are aware the LBD has a list of three section and Leanne shares how this list has helped her in daily life along with many others in the LBD private FB group. It is place for you to record the top three priorities for each day. This makes it the ideal place to pop in meal planning for the scheduled days you have aside.
...so that is, my friends, our top 10 tips for meal planning with intention. However, we have more to share, because this wouldn’t be a true celebratePLAY post without leaving y’all with a plan of action so you too can join in the spring meal planning vibes.
...so ladies and gentleman, grab a pen and paper and start to jot down some notes.
1. Choose one area of meal planning that you would like to improve or introduce. Write it down. Stick it in a few places eg. Planner, phone wallpaper, post it notes stuck on car dashboard...the places, you will be reminded of your meal planning goal. This will help with focus.
2. Write down three steps on how you can realistically make this happen. Make these steps bite size pieces, perhaps by working backwards from your end goal. The idea is to make them achievable steps so you are setting yourself up to succeed.
3. Schedule block some time in your weekly schedule to work on meal planning. This time can be in one big chunk of time to include meal planning to shopping to unpacking to prepping food, cooking, building the freezer stash etc or it could be several chunks of smaller amounts of time. Whatever it be, it needs to be what works for you and just remember, there is nothing magical about the first of the month. If at first, your system does not work, try it again in the days/weeks to come, maybe with the inclusion of some small tweaks, until you find what works best for you. More on this in step 6.
4. Implement your plan in the scheduled time slot.
5. Reflect and evaluate on how this worked, what could be tweaked or changed for next time, if necessary.
6. Start again implementing the same routine with the planned tweaks. Reassess and repeat until you have reached your desired point.
Happy Meal Planning with greater intention!!