Meal planning is a really loaded concept. Everyone and their dog is big on the meal planning train lately, but it would be neglectful to mention that it’s inherently linked to privilege, having the financial means to buy the food you want, in advance, at low prices, and then use the time you probably don’t have (a hot commodity) to plan it all out and account for everyone’s likes, dislikes, allergies, dietary preferences and restrictions, intolerances, food values, etc. For that reason, I’ll share what *I* do for my family, and how it benefits us – please know it may look differently for you.
- Costco – We go usually once a month. I usually get all our meat (best quality available commercially, imo) here, as well as bread (I am intolerant to flax, and Costco is my tried and true for finding healthy bread with no flax seeds in it). I also get many fruits and veggies, eggs, milk, fruit snacks, hummus, and at least 8 other things that weren’t on my list since the Costco Sorcery™ is strong.
- Bulk Barn – I wait for the “25% off if you bring your own containers” sale and load up. Things like waffle crackers, waffle pretzels, greek yogurt baking chips, dried edamame beans, figgy pop protein balls, yogurt covered pretzels and raisins, dried fruit, chocolate dollars, gummy worms, baking supplies, pasta….the possibilities are endless for bento box snack and pantry items.
- Farmers Markets (summer only because #Canada) – as many fruits and veggies as humanely possible, as well as eggs and fresh pies
- Normal Grocery Store – I prefer PC brand stores, since we collect PC points and I’ve found it to be the best cash back points system offered in Canada, and PC brand stores price match so I can always ensure a deal. We buy things like canned/frozen fruits and veggies, cereal, lunch proteins (deli meat, pepperoni, etc), yogurt, tortilla chips, etc.
*Note: I try to stick with the seasons. I don’t buy strawberries in December or pomegranates in July. Winter means we eat a lot more root vegetables than the fresh berries we’re accustomed to in the summer. I offer my kids TONS of dried/frozen fruits too, so when winter comes and their fruititarian lifestyle is threatened, it is not such a shock on their systems. Bulk Barn rocks for a large dried fruit/veggie selection.
For actual planning, I have a special little hack. This $9 book (*affiliate link). It’s small enough to tuck into your purse, and for each 2 page spread you have room to write all your meals on one side, and the grocery list on the other. Easy to refer to when you’re out and about getting supplies, or cooking at home. I also only plan for 3 or 4 days a week, to allow freedom to eat leftovers or cereal or McDonalds because #momlife.
We have 15 or so tried and true meal favourites (spaghetti, breakfast for dinner, tacos, chicken ceaser salad, steak and potatoes, pork and rice, etc) that we rotate around every few weeks, and add in new things every now and again. With my husband working away as often as he does, planning meals in advance is one of the lifelines that keep me sane.
Do you meal plan? Do you find it helpful or overwhelming? Do you like laying it all out in advance or are you more of a “fly by the seat of your pants” kinda person?