When we moved into our first home, we were ready to jump in and make it our own. Mr. Geek knew we had a lot of work ahead of us with our fixer upper (I don’t think I had a realistic concept). It would take long days and nights–after we come home from our full time jobs.
Mr. Geek recommended we cook all of our meals for the week and have them ready to go, lunches and dinners. He brought up the point that after a long day at work, then jumping right into our house project–we’re not going to want to stop and cook. We’re also weren’t going to keep ordering takeout every night. I agreed and secretly wished I had thought of it first.
We have been cooking all of our meals on Sundays for almost three years. I can probably count on one hand the number of times we have had to cook during the week. Sometimes, we did not make it to the weekend but we either treat ourselves to a night out or cook together and use that time to catch up on the week.
I am excited to share the system that has worked for us for almost three years!
Blogger’s Note: I am speaking from the perspective of just a couple with no children. I understand that this whole system will be flipped completely when we have more mouths to feed. This is what works for us right now. We’ll tackle the family meal planning when we get to that challenge!
- More time for projects (or relaxation when we’re just flat out beat!)
- Budget friendly
- Healthier and diet-friendly options instead of turning to take-out for busy weeks
- Packing lunches made easy (and sometimes dinners for the long days!)
- Portable–we can place this right in the cooler to bring up to Maine for the weekend
- Self-care–scheduling time to prepare meals for yourself allows you to say “no” to other things as well as the peace of mind later in the week knowing you have everything ready to go
24 individual meals, 12 for Mr. Geek. 12 for myself.
We put Mr. Geek’s meals in our 4 cup round Pyrex containers. Mine go in a 2 cup Pyrex containers. (Yes, we’re obsessed with Pyrex and look forward to our annual purchase at an outlet in Freeport, Maine).
Step 1: Pick 3-5 Meals/Recipes
This might be my favorite part. Pinterest, our catalog of cookbooks, email subscriber lists–all of these give us options for our meals for the week. Sometimes we do this together while we lay in bed on a Sunday morning. Sometimes we do this separately. (Last week I had them all picked out on Saturday afternoon–HIGH FIVE!) It really depends on the week!
In the beginning, we were using multiple (3) slow cookers but those slow cookers were a little too “loved” and overused that we are down to just one. That worked for us because we couldn’t dedicate the time to cooking on Sundays like we can now. We needed a “set it and forget it” mentality because we were still ripping the house apart. Since then, we’ve noticed we use the one slow cooker, maybe a casserole or roast pan. Or a soup, depending on the weather. Soon we’ll be into grilling season. Is it weird that we plan our meals around the weather?
We have noticed that we focus more on the variety of flavors when selecting our meals. The breakdown is up to you, but we tend to select between 3-5 recipes we are going to make for the week.
Step 2: Organize the Shopping List
As someone who admits to a shopping problem, the items that would add an extra $5-$10 to my purchases would be list pads. Cute list pads. All list pads. I like to be organized and I like to have cute stuff to do it.
If I’m 100% honest, none of these lists worked for grocery shopping. Many meal planning lists planned for the days of the week and cooking each night. Nope. Not me. We just used a composition notebook and organized the meals and broke it down by aisle.
I have created a printable of our grocery list template. We like to organize it n the order of the aisles we walk through at our local grocery store. Save our free printable grocery list and a customizable template to your Google Drive by clicking here.
Step 3: Cook!
This is where the peace and state of mind happens. Sometimes we cook together with music on. Most times it is just me with either music, a podcast, or catching up OnDemand while Mr. Geek works on the house, the yard, or the car. Every so often he kicks me out of the kitchen because he wants to cook. And I’m perfectly okay with that.
It might seem tedious to cook up to five recipes in one day–and I’m not going to lie, sometimes it is a chore when we’re rushing back from Maine or would rather stay at the beach. However, it has become such routine and habit that once you get started and keep the mindset that you are preparing for the week–the negative thoughts melt away. You get into a flow. It is peaceful.
Step 4: Portion Out Your Meals
Again, we love our Pyrex. It is oddly satisfying seeing them all stacked in the refrigerator ready to go.
Step 5: Congratulate Yourself On A Job Well Done
It is a lot of work! At first it may seem exhausting, but once you keep up the habit you won’t even have to think twice when it comes to preparing for the week.
- Make it a priority! You might get some negativity at first or even push it back yourself–but don’t let it get to you. The summertime is definitely the hardest to keep on a schedule–but if you know this ahead of time, then select simpler meals or use a slow cooker to set it and forget it. You will thank yourself later.
- Pick a day that works for you. Sundays work best for us because we both have a more traditional work schedule. That might not work for you–and that’s okay!
- Accept trial and error. There are some weeks I still mess up and don’t make enough meals to get through–and it has been almost three years! Just take note of it and remember for next time.
I would love to hear in the comments what you do for meal planning! Maybe you could also offer tips for planning for a whole family instead of just a couple.