Simplify Food with Meal Planning

The Simple Approach to Meals

When  people hear the terms “simple living” or “minimalism” I’m fairly certain that grocery shopping, meal planning, and cooking aren’t the first things that pop into their minds. But we spend a significant amount of time on these activities. So it makes sense to use a minimalist approach to this integral part of our daily lives.

Simple living is about cutting out what distracts you from leading the life you want to live, and spending time doing things you love. Since I’m not a fan of the whole cooking thing, for me this is an issue that has to be addressed.  How can I minimize the time and effort that goes into putting a meal on the table? How can I make the process more enjoyable? While I’m at it, I’d like to cook meals that are healthy, nutritious, and satisfying, so that we take better care of our bodies.

Simplifying Food with meal planningMeal Planning Software

With a little research, I found a site called PlanToEat.com. This is  online meal planning software to help you store recipes, create menus, and automatically make a shopping list. You can even friend other users to access their recipes and menus.  I’m all in on this one. It will take a bit of time up front, collecting recipes (they do have a clip-let to make this easier) and building menus, but it will get faster as time goes by. Combined with Walmart’s grocery pick up service, the whole dinner-on-the-table process becomes easier.

My plan for planning

So this my plan: Find easy-to-cook, healthy meals, and pull them into the program. I want some variety, and I want food that we will actually eat. No endive or polenta or feta-and-sprout sandwiches. I’m going to spend some time, and find 90-100 easy-to-make recipes that I know we’ll enjoy. Then I will spend about 90 minutes every two weeks on meal planning. With my previous  “Just wing it” approach to cooking,  I spent at least 90 minutes staring into the freezer, wondering what to cook. I’m not adding to my schedule, just making it more efficient. Once I get a rotation of meals I’m happy with, I will spend less and less time on planning. When the meal plan is done, BAM!, so is the shopping list.  All I have to do is use my list to input my grocery order on Walmart’s online grocery service. This service is amazing, and literally saves hours of my time. As for the cooking part, I’m think hubby and I can start preparing meals together, so it’s faster and more enjoyable. Right now, we tend to take turns in the kitchen, or running for take out.

Update: We are just two weeks in, but I love this! Plan to Eat is super simple to use, I’ve found some great recipes, and I did meal plans for the entire month of December, including Christmas brunch, in about 2 hours.  Cooking has become less onerous since hubby and I  usually cook together, and no more take out! Instead, we plan ahead for the evenings I’m working (I’m not off until 7:45), and prep ahead for either a casserole or a crock pot meal. As an added bonus, our savings on the cost of food has been huge! With a little more tweaking, and a full month’s worth of planned meals, I think we will spend even less time and money on meals. Yay!

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  1. […] “No Spend November,” primarily to get our food costs under control. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the process of getting dinner on the table is an integral part of life, so it makes sense to […]

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