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How to Meal Plan When You are a Disorganized Disaster


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Creating a meal plan seems like an impossible dream when you are disorganized like I am.  I dutifully pin what I’d like to eat, scour cookbooks for healthy recipes, and write down my plan like the type-A-planning-fiend I know I’m secretly meant to be.

This time will be the one.

I buy the groceries, delighting in my newfound organization and preparedness.  What’s for lunch on Tuesday?  Why the caesar salad with crockpot tomato soup, thank you very much.

Monday morning goes well and my hubris grows.  Look at me eating the veggie omelet and fruit that I had planned. La dee da.

Lunch is a little hurried, but I stick to the plan.  I’ve got this!

Then 3:30 arrives and I realize that I have to start teaching voice lessons in half an hour.  When am I going to make supper?  If I make it now, it will be overcooked by the time I’m done teaching.  If I wait until I’m done, I’ll be eating at 9PM.

Uh oh.

Okay, you can just drop the plan for one little meal, it will be okay!  No worries.

Then Tuesday happens, and Wednesday and Thursday.

Finally Friday!  I’m done teaching by 4:45, so supper will be made!  Hurray.

By Sunday I’m garbaging half my groceries that I had planned to eat for all those suppers and questioning my life decisions.  Maybe I’m not cut out for this meal-planning-thing after all.

Does this sound familiar?

While I haven’t figured out the holy grail of meal planning, I’ve figured out a few things along the way that help us waste less groceries.

Meal Plan Around Your Schedule and Workload

Every Sunday my husband and I take a look at our calendars and see how many meals we’re actually going to be home for.  Some weeks are so crazy that my meal plan is actually eating out, because I know that I won’t have enough time between gigs to make a proper meal.  Eventually I’d like to be organized to make and freeze meals ahead of time, but until that day, this tip alone has saved me hundreds in wasted groceries.

Allow for Flexibility

We like to plan for one less meal than we think we’ll need, because we often get crazy food ideas that we just have to make on a whim.  (Maybe we should watch a few less food shows. . . )  We’ve accepted that that’s just the way we are, so we leave space for the crazy.

More normal families like to leave one day or meal for using up leftovers.

Use What’s in Storage

Each week 1-3 meals should be using things in your freezer.  We are the worst for freezing discount meat or in-season vegetables, only to forget we have them until they are freezer burnt beyond recognition.

I dream of having a running list of what’s in my freezer. . . but that would be too organized for me.

One of this year’s goals is to take a look at what’s in the freezer and pantry before we set foot in the grocery store.

Accept Your Family Situation

Eating one single meal that all 3 of us will eat is simply an impossible dream that may never happen until Dominic is in his mid-twenties.  Between Dominic’s sensory issues, the Hermit’s long working hours, my unusual working hours, and my desire to stick to a ketogenic diet more often than not, there is nothing all three of us will eat.

It used to really stress me out, but I’ve learned to accept that this is who we are and the life we live, so I might as well work with it instead of against it.

Chances are, your family eating situation is not this extreme.  But whatever it is, accept the truths about how your family actually likes to eat and not the dream family you wish you had.  However, if everyone is on board with moving to a healthier lifestyle, then that’s amazing if you can do it as a family effort.

Make it Part of Your Routine

Now is the fun part!  Decide on a weekly time when you’ll make your plan and start experimenting.

If you tend to be disorganized, know that you won’t be perfect at meal planning immediately.  Our goal from January to March is to have one week per month of successful meal planning.  Can we do more?  Maybe.  But we’re taking it in baby steps.

Get Extra Help

While you’re likely not a private voice teacher who has trouble getting supper on the table, you probably face some other challenges to making a meal plan.

Maybe you have a special diet or allergies, and finding recipes is challenging.  Or maybe there’s nothing that everyone in your family will eat, or you just need to up your crock pot game.

If you follow me on Facebook, this week I introduced you to the Meal Planning Ultimate Bundle.  I am an affiliate for them and I love the bundles that they come out with.  Just one or two of the books more than pays for the bundle itself.

I’m personally excited about the Ketogenic and Crockpot ones.  I love that the planning and grocery lists are all done for you.

Yes, you could scour Pinterest and your cookbooks and try and piece something together.  But if you’re disorganized like me, you’ll save so much time and energy by following something that’s tried, tested, and true.

Finally, have you ever thrown away $50 or more in groceries that have gone bad? *everyone averts their eyes guiltily*

Great, the Meal Planning Ultimate Bundle is for you.

Join Top Food Bloggers and Learn to Meal Plan Like a Pro

On January 3rd, Ultimate Bundles will be inviting you into the kitchens of 5 VIP food bloggers to learn practical tips for meal planning like a pro.

Whether you have a tight budget, aren’t sure where to even begin, or need to know which kitchen tools and appliances will make meals and planning even easier, you won’t want to miss this live, virtual Meal-Plan-Along event.

Festivities run from 4-7 pm EST, Wednesday, January 3rd. Grab your free spot to attend now!


Kristen Raney

Kristen Raney

Kristen is a former farm kid turned urban gardener who owns the popular gardening website, Shifting Roots.  She is obsessed with growing flowers and pushing the limits of what can be grown in her zone 3b garden.  She also loves to grow tomatoes, but oddly enough, dislikes eating them raw.

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Hi, I'm Kristen and I help new gardeners learn to grow their own vegetables and beautify their yards. I also share recipes that use all that delicious garden produce. Grab a coffee (and your gardening gloves) and join me for gardening tips, simple recipes, and the occasional DIY, all from the lovely city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

P.S. First time gardener? You'll want to download the quick start gardening guide below!