Tabula Rasa *rubs hands together maniacally*
Everyone, grab your calendar.
Your calendar can be a traditional wall calendar, like mine, that you hang in your kitchen. You can use a planner, which would be nifty for also storing coupons and shopping lists. You can use a digital calendar, which would be convenient if you cook every day and have a desk job where you can access it every afternoon before you leave. Whatever your choice, it needs to have enough space to list 2-3 meals a day (depending on whether you actively plan breakfast and whether you follow the 3-meal-a-day habit).
You also need to decide how often you will plan. I plan monthly, but if you would rather plan weekly or seasonally, there’s no reason that won’t work just as well. You will need to adjust your meal count from yesterday to reflect your new timeline.
The first thing you need to plot on your calendar are the plans that affect your meal production. For example, I note the days/evenings that I have dinner with friends (or are cooking dinner for friends). I note nights that involve choir practice, book club, writers group, and committee meetings. And I definitely write down days that I will be out of town, because there’s no need to plan anything there.
Next, you will need to choose shopping days. Personally, I eyeball my open Friday nights or any days that I have planned to take a personal day from work, because I would rather eat a bug than deal with the grocery store when everyone else in the world is there. I choose two or three days, depending on how many of my listed meals have gone renegade from my staples list. Find shopping days; write them on the calendar.
Now all you have left to do is fill in your meals. When I plot meals that can stretch into two (or four), I list them with their serving number on each subsequent day beside it. You can see an example of this in the picture on the master list post:
Most of my leftovers are lunches, but some of them end up on the nights I have something planned that does not involve eating (such as choir practice).
I have started leaving a few days blank at the end of the month for when I inevitably have more servings than I expected or when I spontaneously decided to go out with people for lunch/dinner or saw a new recipe to try in the middle of the month. Experience has shown me that I do these things frequently enough that I hardly ever end up having to come up with something to eat for those final few days because they shift the meal plan. If you already know this will likely be the case for you then feel free to leave them blank as well, but there’s no real harm in planning something for every day until you see how that works for you.
We will talk tomorrow about how to shift your calendar efficiently if such a need arises.
I’m sharing my Epic Meal Planning strategies for Write 31 Days – click to see the master list.