What’s for dinner? If you ask yourself this every weekday, it’s a question that pops up 260 times. Or more, if you also ask it on weekends! How much time do you spend mulling over options and trying to marry up what’s in the pantry with what’s in the fridge - sometimes without much success?
Even though this relates more to home life than it does business, planning your meals is a powerful productivity tip. It combines the greatness of time blocking with the simplicity of making plans and the result is that you have to dedicate far less thought into what’s for dinner - which leaves you with more time to think about how you want to spend your free time.
Six simple steps for planning your meals:
- Open the freezer, poke through the pantry, check out the back of the fridge for things that need to be used! Jot down some of the ones you want to use this week.
- Write a list of the days coming up (I usually only do one week at a time but start with the length that works for you). Or tap into your meal planning app.
- Start creating meal ideas for each night - try to incorporate some of what you have on hand. Take into account what else the family is planning that night or when you would rather come home to a slow-cooker full of meaty goodness after a big day at work.
- Write down the groceries you need to supplement the meals. (Bonus points if you organise your list by sections of the store!)
- Go grocery shopping. Post the meal plan on the fridge or share the plan via your app.
- Come home to an easy answer to the question: “What’s for dinner?”
The planning typically only adds ten minutes to making the grocery list - aside from those times when I want to get creative and try new recipes!
There's An App For That
If you don’t use any grocery apps - try one, maybe that’s what can prompt you to start planning! If your weeks can change on a dime, then leave a day or two empty or plan from a frozen ingredient so that you can change it to a later date without sacrificing the freshness of the food! (Or always try to keep some frozen healthy leftovers on hand - it’s always easy to make extra chili or pasta.)
Apps-wise, I’ve used Food Planner, Big Oven and am currently enjoying Yummly. The only thing Yummly doesn’t do is list out the days of the week but since my husband can be more hands-on, we typically have a handwritten meal list on the fridge so I don’t mind because Yummly’s grocery list creation is much simpler than the others.
Try it this week. Then tell me all about how it went! After a few weeks, I swear you won’t look back.
I’m creating a series of my favourite productivity tips to share with you! I’m trying to keep them useful and concise so that they are easy to apply in your day-to-day life. Let me know if there are topics you'd like me to cover!