Opposite Shift Meal Planning

I don't like meal planning.

But I like having the plan.

Wait, what?

I don't like planning because I try to involve other people in the planning sessions who probably don't want to be there. It's the classic scenario - "what do you want to eat?" "I dunno, whatever sounds good to you." "so, pizza?" "no, I don't like pizza."  ARGH!!!

And then, add in the little twist that is the opposite shift schedule, and it gets even more fun.

But I like having the plan to avoid splurging at the grocery store and budget chaos and it means I don't have to think too much when someone asks "what's to eat?"

I can't believe I'm the only one in this situation, but all of the meal planning tips I've seen are typically geared toward the single family meal (dinner) that just doesn't work well for an opposite shift schedule.

So, here's what seems to be working for us.

1. Plan a week at a time. 
Yes, it means dealing with a planning "meeting" every week, but it is so much easier than trying to anticipate changing taste buds. Also, my planning sheet will only hold one week at a time. Our schedule is that we do our shopping on Thursday's, because that's when the fridge should be mostly empty (see #3). It is really hard to think about meal planning in the middle of the week. But we're working on it.

2. Leave room for flexibility. 
Leave a meal blank or make one of the meals something that could be easily replaced.  For example a frozen pizza can stay in the freezer if it makes more sense to heat up some leftovers. Or maybe you end up with more chicken than you needed for the one recipe and have to use it before a certain day.

Allow yourself some grace to manipulate your meal plan throughout the week. You know what meals you're having, it just might not be in the order you planned.

3. Plan around trash day. 
This is a new one for us (probably because of the whole exhausted mom thing), but it really makes sense. Our trash is typically picked up on Friday and we take our trash & recycling to the curb on Thursday afternoons before Ron goes to work. So, we plan for leftover night on Wednesdays to use up whatever we can before trash day.

*it should be noted that just because we didn't eat Tuesday's leftovers on Wednesday, they don't automatically go in the trash. They are still edible and can stay.

4. Plan around your strengths.
Ron is a pretty good cook and seems to like it.  He is also more comfortable preparing meat that I am. So, most of our carnivorous meals are at lunchtime when he is home to prepare them. And we usually end up with leftovers so that he can take them to work or I can incorporate them into dinner.
Now, I on the other hand, don't like to cook meat, and I'm not interested in crafting meals that have a lot of steps. I opt for simple, kid-friendly meals at dinnertime, which translates to pasta, frozen pizza/nuggets/etc, quesadillas and the like.

5. Don't forget to consult your calendar.
This is huge!!! If you know you won't be home, don't plan a meal. Pay attention to times when you won't have much time to prep food and make sure you've got a simple meal planned for that time.

Once we've got our plan for the week, it's off to Aldi (cause it's awesome and close to home) with our list to stock up.

Want to get our Meal Planning Pack?
It's in Word so you can edit it to fit your family and shopping habits. 



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