If there is something I have learned from Quarantine, it is meal planning. In May, I meal planned for the whole month. Yes, it actually worked and I haven’t stopped since. I was still using Shipt with Target (free four weeks) so I ordered most of our groceries from there and had a quick stop at Trader Joe’s.
We decided to no longer use the Shipt with Target… for now. I wasn’t sure how much I would use it post-COVID, and truthfully, I enjoy my Target shopping trips. The Shipt, I believe, didn’t actually save us any money because you have to count in the tip for the person that shopped for you. Which is totally understandable, and it was almost too easy to order all of the time.
For June, we ordered our groceries from Walmart, and did a pick-up. I also did a Sam’s and TJ run, but that would be the same even if we ordered from Target. We bulk buy certain things from Sam’s once a month. Mostly items for Jackson to take to lunch, which we haven’t had to really do the past three months, and drinks. Since he is back at work now, we will go through certain items quicker now. July was a little different because we were out of town. I pushed our June meals to when we were leaving in July. We literally had nothing in fridge! Once we got back, I did a quick shopping trip to get us to August.
During the weekends, we are normally at my parents house, so that means we only have to plan dinners for the week. We also go over to my sisters on Wednesdays, which sometimes she cooks and sometimes we cook. Therefore, we only really need to plan for 4 nights sometimes!
Planning for the month was interesting at first. It turns out it is actually really helpful for me because I knew what was for dinner each night. We definitely scrape the bottom of the bowl the last week of the month, but we always make it.
Each month, I try a few new items on the menu and a couple of repeat goodies. One thing about my husband is his eating choices aren’t the easiest to cook for. Plan and simple, he eats like a 12 year old and hates certain textures. Yes, this is 100% true. I try to add in fun new ideas, but also keep the good ones that I know he and I like.
My favorite thing about meal planning is leftovers. With most recipes made for four people, having leftovers is pretty easy most nights. Since Jackson plays in a golf league on Tuesdays, I try to have leftovers from Monday night dinners. This allows me some extra time on Tuesday after work and Jackson just heats up his food after golf. Saving time anywhere I can is very helpful!
When I start my monthly dinner planning, I first look at our schedule for the month! Which now a days, isn’t much! Just give yourself grace with your planning. Don’t be afraid to get messy and cross things out. It doesn’t need to be perfect. If a meal has an ingredient that won’t last a month, I make sure to plan for that meal early on! After I have all of our meals planned out, I create my shopping list to order my online pick-up through Walmart.
I do not pick substitutions on most items. Normally, I have a few items that are out of stock with my orders, so I will just grab those during a quick Target run. I set my pick-up time around 10-11am. This gives me time to run to Sam’s before my pick-up. I would say every other month is when I have a big Sam’s order. We buy our protein in bulk to freeze, and depending on what we are eating, it can last awhile. Like I mentioned above, with Jackson taking lunch to work everyday again, we go through snacks, bread, etc quicker with him taking stuff everyday.
Pre-COVID, I would reuse my reusable bags each shopping trip. I know at some point, they asked people to not bring those in. However, I was thinking that I could probably take them into Sam’s since I do the Scan and Go via the app. If you have a Sam’s membership (I am not sure if Costco gives you this option), you totally need to use this feature. All you have to do is open your app, scan your item, and then check out on the app once you are done! It is genius. No waiting in lines and touching everything while checking out. It does seem weird just walking past the check-out, but the associate at the door scans your app and an item to confirm, just like they do with your receipt.
Since I currently don’t take the reusable bags into the store, I still keep them in the car. Once I get to the car, I throw everything in the bags so it is easier to carry inside. Same with my Walmart pick-up. The associate puts everything in my trunk, and once I get home, I put them in my reusable bags to carry inside! So much easier and way less trips!
Even with all of my meal planning, stuff comes up. One night I might not want to cook, like at all, and we will order out or heat up some wings. Or we will eat dinner at one of our parents houses. Which is totally okay! Sometimes we don’t have leftovers, when I planned on having some, or I will eat the leftovers for lunch instead. 🙂 But since we “missed” a scheduled dinner, I still have a meal to cook with everything ready for me.
Meal planning can seem overwhelming but this process has really worked for us! I hope this will help you with your future meal planning or if something different works for you, let me know in the comments!
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