As usual, I don't know if my personal thoughts will be helpful to anyone else, but...here are a few of my recent thoughts on forming (or reforming) a system for meal planning:
- Up until now, my system has looked pretty much like this.
- I'd been wanting to update this system in order to establish a little more structure + make it a little easier + quicker to plan our meals + grocery lists. Even with my system, I am often just a little too stumped when it comes time to make my list. I feel guilty about repeating meals too often, but then end up doing it anyway.
- I watched a video by Minimal Mom the other day + it just felt good to hear that Dawn makes a lot of the same meals over + over. She said that our moms used to do that + didn't apologize for it before recipe blogs + food shows, etc. Sometimes it's just nice to know that other people are doing something. (I don't really know why.) :)
- When I sat down to work on my system, my mind was still resisting making it more specific. I realize that I often balk at creating a system, because I'm not sure I want to fully commit to it. I think I'll probably fail anyway...or that I'll want more variety...or that I just won't like it. Well, I just had to tell my brain that I want to try this + I can make changes anytime I want to. (duh.)
So...I decided to keep the plan I've been using...but to give myself two actual meal choices in each supper category...for each season. Right now the categories I'm using include:
- root vegetable
- for 3 (one less for dinner)
Right now, we eat mostly vegetarian + gluten-free + considering some other food sensitivities, so coming up with meals can feel like a long checklist of can-we/can-we-not. I decided that two meals in each category would allow for many weekly combinations. I also left a few options in the meals. For example, one of our favorite meals lately is lemon rice. The base of it is jasmine rice, a little butter, lemon, parmesan cheese + scallions (because they are in season now!) + salt + pepper flakes. We would all enjoy eating it just like this, but adding peas, asparagus, broccoli +/or radishes along with some protein offers an opportunity for both variety + for using fresh spring produce.
Making seasonal iterations of this plan will offer even more chance for variety + for using the season's offerings. For spring, I chose lemon rice + broccoli/cashew rice as our rice meals. In the summer, I may choose a deconstructed sushi bowl + rice with peanut sauce as our rice meal choices. I've put some suggestions on the other season's lists, but I'll leave those decisions for those seasons.
This process reminded me of what Courtney Carver is doing with her 333 wardrobe challenge. The three month blocks in 333 have always seemed a little arbitrary for me weather-wise, but I recognize that it's more about dealing with the system (+ the vast majority of the decision making) all at once + then living + resting within its boundaries for the following three months.
I hope it's obvious that we can eat whatever we want to...whenever. This system is not meant to be restrictive in any way. It just exists as a helper for coming up with meals week after week.
A few questions I asked myself along the way:
- What would I like to eat every day? What feels nourishing + delicious + healthy?
- What do my people like to eat?
- Are we getting enough protein?
I have to say that I feel pretty good about crossing this task off my list. My list looks nourishing + delicious + budget-possible. I don't have to make my shopping list until Friday + it's only Wednesday. I feel like I've done my future self a favor.