Ever get in a rut with meals? Where you eat the same thing over and over every week? Sometimes that is necessary…and helpful. Ruts keep us on the road. But sometimes a little creativity goes a long way. If you have the time (20-30 minutes) and the desire, a meal planning reset can easily jump you out of the ruts and spice up your diet.
Today is that day for me. Here’s how it worked:
Gather tools. I still use and love the mini sticky note meal plan on the refrigerator door method. So I needed those and a pen. Then I grabbed a new cookbook I’m excited about and my two go-to recipe binders. The new cookbook was tabbed with the recipes I was most eager to try. The binders are either tried-and-true recipes (rated by how much we enjoyed them) or new ones I’ve printed and want to try.
Browse and choose. First I went through the new cookbook (because…exciting!). I choose a few meals and wrote them on sticky notes. Then I paged through the binders. There were a bunch of new recipes to try there, so I wrote those down. I considered using a couple of old ones we hadn’t had for a while, but ended up having plenty of new options to try.
Add to grocery list. As I went through the recipes, I checked the ingredient lists to see if I would need anything that isn’t usually (or already) in my pantry/freezer. If so, I added the items to my grocery list as I went.
Clean up. The notes went on the refrigerator door. The books went back on the shelf. The grocery order was placed. Good to go!
This worked for me. What works for you?
In my role as time management coach, people occasionally ask what my planner looks like. Since we’ve been looking at various planner options lately, today we’ll look at mine once again. Please keep in mind that what works for me may not be the best tool for you. So take a peek and use what you can.
My planner is paper. This was a change a few years ago when my days became more mobile. A binder, that is small enough to hold easily, can come with me from place to place and be where I need it. In addition to the calendar, it also holds coupons and shopping lists. I’m not a huge fan of paper in general, so having every bit of paper I need in one place is helpful. I buy a new insert each fall for the next year, but everything else stays in the pockets and binder.
- Note: Because I’m not a paper-keeper, I do throw away each page after I go through that week. The only pages in my binder are the ones I need for planning forward.
The calendar is a week per spread. This is the right balance for my days — enough room to write various appointments and details but still small enough to see the whole week at once. A monthly option isn’t quite enough room, and a page per day leaves too much empty space unfilled.
The days contain appointments and tasks. One side of the sheet is marked hourly, so I can put appointments and commitments at the right times. The other side is for a to-do list, so I can keep track of tasks for each day and the week. Having them side-by-side is important for my success. Both parts work together to map out the day.
The pages are plain. Color-coding can be useful, but I don’t get enough benefit from it. I use whatever pen is handy (one on my desk or the one I keep in the planner loop) to write what is needed. It just needs to be legible until it’s past or crossed off.
It’s simple, but it works.