About a month ago, I decided to get serious about meal planning. What a difference it has made! I spend less because I know just what I want and need for the week and I waste less because I'm being thoughtful about using up what I've got instead of bringing more of the same into the house. Oh, and the most important part, it has helped with the overeating. I still have the decision to make, but having the plan laid out eliminates a lot of stress to figure out what to make when you're already hungry. I've also started eating 3 meals and 2-3 small snacks to keep me from getting hungry and going into mindless feeding frenzies.
I've shared some pictures of my simple template below. Sparkmail me with your email address if you'd like the template. Or just use the pics to create your own.
Both the meal planning and grocery list are inspired by the Sparkpeople meal planning tool, which I believe is a .pdf resource somewhere on their site. Pdfs are useful if you want to use a hard copy, but I like the option to have both, so I recreated it with some modifications in a spreadsheet.
By the way, the meal plan does not replace my Sparkpeople Nutrition Tracker. I still need that, as I don't document portions in the meal plan. It's just a guide to know WHAT I'm eating. I still use the tracker to watch how MUCH I'm eating.
When I'm good and plan the whole week, I'll print it out and put it on the fridge. It gets marked up a lot because I swap things in and out. This week, I didn't plan very well, so I'm popping into the spreadsheet daily to figure out what I want to eat. That might work for some people, but it's not ideal for me. I'm going to try to come back this evening and map out the rest of the week, so I can fuhget abot it!
Each week, take stock of your fridge and pantry. Use that as a basis for what you'll eat next week and start a running list of the grocery items you'll need. Having a total picture of the week's food before you is a great opportunity to try new foods, recipes, and cooking techniques. In the month of December, I made a goal to make one new slow cooked meal per week. It was a fun challenge and ended with a few new recipes that the family enjoys.
Here's my grocery list, which I also borrowed from Sparkpeople. I modified it a little so the categories are in order of the supermarket layout. Do this! It will save you time when foraging at the market!
Sorry for the lack of clarity with the images. Sparkmail me with your email address if you want a copy of the template.