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The Secret to Meal Planning: Part 3 “Know Your Schedule”

By Shanna Demers, neighborhood market manager:

So how did shopping at home go over last week?! Digging through your freezer can be intimidating but hopefully diving in resulted in some inspiration to cook forgotten items and saved you some money at the grocery store!

By the way, if you’re wondering what the heck I’m talking about, head here
for Part 1 of this meal planning series, and here for Part 2, “Shopping at Home”.

After I finish my home shopping and review my upcoming Seasonal Roots order, I have an accurate idea of what I have on hand and use it to inspire my weekly plan. But there’s one more vital piece to this puzzle: our weekly schedule.

It took me a while to figure that out. Normally families have the same commitments week in and week out, but when I assumed I could follow a plan that had a predictable daily themes, like meatless Monday, taco Tuesday, and so on, I failed again. It didn’t work.

Once a week batch cooking — a.k.a. cooking up a storm one day and using the pre-cooked items throughout the week — also didn’t work. No one in my family is ever stoked about leftovers and it felt like that was all we were eating!

I felt trapped. Yet again, these “tried and true” meal plans were not working for me. I was either trying new recipes on my busiest days, or winding up with a large amount of cooked food that had to be eaten whether or not we felt like eating it just to avoid having to throw it away.

Then it finally hit me. Every week is unique. Duh! It seems so obvious now: If I was going to be successful, I had to plan meals that actually fit our schedule. Rules were tossed again and so was the recipe for disaster that I was following. After all, tacos taste good any night of the week, not just Tuesdays.

So now, Sunday is my planning day. I take about an hour and sit with a cup of coffee, cookbooks, Pinterest (where every week Seasonal Roots posts new recipes that use the most popular produce items for the upcoming week), and my calendar planner.

Based on what’s actually on our schedule for the upcoming week, I can better decide which nights I should use the crock pot, which nights I can look forward to cooking, and which nights we will need to have leftovers. I enjoy cooking and usually try cooking a few nights in a row. Leftover night is much more fun when you have a choice in the matter. Seeing which meals produce sought-after leftovers and which meals are just no good unless they’re fresh also helps me plan ahead. So your challenge this week is to make your plan fit your schedule, not someone else’s.