Sundays are my day to center myself and my family. It is a day that we use to rest, catch up from the week, and plan for the week ahead. This may look different for you, or need to occur on a different day, that is okay. But I highly recommend having some time set aside each week to be able to align your week with your family values and goals (I know that sounds so big, but it is actually necessary! Life can get so busy and it is easy to get lost).
For the focus of this blog post, I am going to look at one piece of my centering process: meal planning & grocery shopping. For my family, we have found the best day for us to review our week and meal plan is Sunday. It doesn’t need to be Sunday, but try to pick a consistent day/time for you, flexibility is there if needed, but scheduling your time, even for the mundane things will give you a better chance of sticking with it.
When it comes to meal planning, I go through several steps:
LIST OF STAPLES
My favourite / most used items that are purchased every week no matter what the meal plan
I recommend you have these items on a list already made. There is no point in having to use brain power to think about these every week again and again. To help you with this, I have created this. It has been organized by the areas of my usual grocery store and in the order I would normally travel through each area. Simply create a copy of this document and you will be able to edit it to work for you. This list helps me remember what I need from each area and allows me to be more efficient with my time. I suggest having all your staples written down, and if one week you don’t need it, just simply cross it off.
Low Waste Tips:
Try to make your list electronic to save on paper
By listing out your staples and keeping a list, you are less likely to purchase items you do not need and that will end up being wasted (this also saves you money!)
Review your list, is there anything that could be swapped out for a low waste alternative?
Review your list - is there anything you have at home already? Anything that you could substitute in to use up so that it doesn't go bad?
REVIEW THE SCHEDULE
I look at what the week involves and what nights we will have sit down family meals, quick meals, or when we just need to have a go-to favourite
We personally use google calendars for our family organizing, so that my husband and I can share calendars and add to them at anytime. BUT I do have a paper calendar in the kitchen that I update on Sundays. This just helps us remember everything going on with the kids (show and share days, library, events etc.). We try to aim for at least 3-4 sit down at the dining table family meals each week.
Low Waste Tips:
By reviewing your week you can see when you may need to pick up dinner or eat on the run, by seeing this in advance, try to pack containers for your food, or even your own cutlery to reduce on waste when you are out.
Decide on a left over night to ensure everything is eaten up!
MY RECIPE BOOK
I keep a binder with all of my favourite recipes and go to meals for quick and easy reference.
Not only does this help me remember them, but I can clearly see the ingredient list too
I sit down and go through my recipe book and decide which meals I would like to make that week. I have a list of our favourite recipes on the first page, #thelazygenius says it perfectly, she calls them “brainless crowd pleasers”, meals that you know everyone is going to love and that are simple for you to put together.
I start by adding in my brainless crowd pleasers for the week, and then fill in the blanks. As I am creating my meal plan, I add my grocery items to my list.
Low Waste Tip:
By keeping a binder you don’t need to print out recipes multiple times as you keep them organized in one location
You can organize your meals to include some of the same ingredients so you can purchase more in bulk
BREAKFAST & LUNCH
What about lunches? My kids eat the SAME lunch everyday - yep, you read that right. I did not want to be a mom who hating making lunches for school and fought my kids daily. So we determined the foods they like the best, that fit into all the food groups, and we just repeat! So those are on my list as my staple items. My husband and I eat leftovers (I make big meals for this reason).
What about breakfast? Those are basic in our house and the same daily. Something like cereal. Once a week we will have a big breakfast like pancakes or eggs and bacon.
Low Waste Tips:
If our kids do not eat their whole lunch, this becomes their snack when they come home. They do not get anything else to eat if there is food left. This cuts down on waste.
Try to pack items in the lunch that do not have a lot of packaging and that can be purchased in bulk amounts instead of individually wrapped items.
Purchase a lunch box like YumBoxes or PlanetBox that give you different sections for your food and eliminate the need for plastic bags.
CUSTOMIZING IT ALL FOR YOU
You obviously don’t need to follow what I do, however, I provide it to you so you have a framework to run with. You need to customize it so that it works for you and your family. Blogs and resources are great to get you motivated and started, but completing duplicating someone else’s process isn’t going to work and you will end up stopping. What works for me, isn’t going to work for you. But you want to discover the key takeaways that you can use when developing your own plan.
Low Waste Tips:
When grocery shopping, use reusable bags
Check out www.thesimpleconceptshop.com for bulk and produce bags
Purchase items in bulk if they have a long shelf life
Choose an item in glass over plastic
Speak with the grocery manager about items you would like to see in the store or changes you want made (they do like to hear from their customers)