How Janae Plans Meals
My main goal for meal planning is simplicity—it takes me about 20 to 30 minutes to plan my menus and make my shopping list each week. I use my phone for meal planning because I want everything in one place—I don't have to search for my list, or check a calendar on the wall to remember what I've planned for dinner. Over the years I have developed a system using two main apps: ToDo, a very basic project management app; and Anylist, a shopping list app that allows you to share your list. Here's how I do it:
1. I use the checklist feature in the Todo app to list all the recipes I make. Right now I have 65 recipes on my list. About once a week, I look through the list and set due dates for the meals I want to make that week. Menu done.
2. I then go over to my Anylist app and plug in the ingredients I need for each meal. The app allows me to keep a list for each of the main stores I go to: Sprouts, Costco, Walmart, and Trader Joe's. For each store, the app organizes the ingredients by category/aisle, to make shopping easier. You can even organize the categories to match the flow of your store. I also use the favorites feature, so I can mark the items I buy most frequently, and they'll automatically stay on my list. Since my husband always does the Costco shopping, I can email him the list right from the app. You can also share lists with someone else who has the Anylist.
3. When I cook, I almost always make double. Then I can freeze the leftovers. I immediately set a due date for a week or two later (again in the Todo app) so I don't forget about the leftovers.
4. In addition to freezing leftovers, I like to buy meat when its on sale and freeze it. So my freezer is usually well stocked. About once a month, I pull everything out of my freezer. As I put it back in, I pick a recipe I want to make with that item and schedule it for a specific day.
5. I mostly use Pinterest to organize my recipes. I organize them on several different boards. One is my "Tried and True" board, where I keep our favorites. When I find a recipe I want to try, I just pin it to my general board. Then I keep a board I call "Try Next," where I put 4-5 recipes that I've decided I'm actually going to make. I try to keep this board small to make sure I do try them.
6. For breakfast, lunch, and snacks, I involve my kids in the planning. I have a master list of all the foods we typically eat in each category. Then I let the kids plug them into a menu for the week. I divide snacks into healthy and treat categories. My daughter brings two snacks to school, so she knows she can pick one from each category. My son brings one snack each day, so he trades off between healthy and treats.