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How do you meal plan?

how to meal plan

I think I was playing hookie on the day that moms learn how to meal plan in Mom School. I simply have never been good at planning dinners ahead so that I have what I need to cook for the week. Actually let me rephrase that: I’ve never ever done it EVER. In my 16 years of being a mom, I’ve never been able to devote the time, the brain power, and the organization skills to planning dinners ahead. Which of course leads to chaos every evening. 

I’ve been trying to get better at meal planning for a long time. The idea makes so much sense to me, especially as someone who uses tech and proper planning to hack and streamline so many of life’s tasks, from fitting exercise into a busy schedule to getting more (and better) sleep.

What is it about this process that’s so elusive to me? Maybe it’s that there’s so many moving parts—groceries, recipes, shopping, prepping… it feels like it takes so much time that I simply don’t have to spare… but being crazed, exhausted, and looking at my kids blankly when they ask me what’s for dinner— that’s just not cool. 

What I’ve tried: bookmarking recipes in my favorite cookbooks, then writing their titles in Evernote; clipping recipes to Pinterest to use later (I never remember they’re there); putting prep time on my calendar (which gets written over if I decide to take a morning yoga class, or just go out for breakfast burritos with the kids). I’ve also tried apps like Gathered Table to make grocery lists and plan dinners for the whole week; and recently I was (re)introduced to Whirlpool’s app Yummly, which will organize recipes according to your food preferences, and makes grocery-list-making a snap. 

None of it has quite clicked perfectly for me yet. So, I’m taking it to you, readers: What works for you? Do you have tips and tricks that have made it easier for you to stay on top of meal planning and prepping? Is there an app or device that’s served you well? Which strategies have totally failed?

Leave your best tips in the comments below. 

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