Thursday, March 24, 2016

How to Meal Plan Together

I spend a lot of time alone due to deployments. When I'm alone, I like to meal plan for the entire week because otherwise I make bad choices or simply don't eat complete meals. When the husband comes home, it's a bit of a transition to go from my structured meal plans to his less structured method. We've eventually developed a system that meets in the middle for our two styles and I thought I would share it with you today.

When we first got married, our meal plan styles were completely different. The husband was the one that would go to the store without a list and just sort of "wing it" when deciding what to eat for the week. I was the type that planned out my meals for every day of the week and mostly stuck to the plan. Obviously, these two styles didn't match up and we had to find a way to meet in the middle. The steps I describe below are our way of meeting in the middle.

1. Establish what events are going on for the week.
There's no reason to plan for a night of food that won't happen. Look at your calendar and determine what nights will need dinner and what nights might result in eating out or a grab and go sort of meal.

2. Evaluate the leftover nights.
Look at the nights left after you put your events on the calendar. How many nights are there? How many of those nights will be spent eating at home? Our rule of thumb is that weekdays tend to be at home while weekends tend to result in eating out since we're always on the go. Obviously, this could look very different for you.

3. Determine how many nights you will eat at home.
How many nights will be at home? Are any of those going to be leftover nights? Use this step to determine how many meals you need for the week. We tend to do 4-5 meals a week because the weekend is usually eating out or leftovers.

4. Establish your meals for the week and who will cook them.
After you decide how many meals you need, determine what they will be. Then, determine who will cook them if you share the responsibility like we do. We don't assign each meal a day. Instead, we establish 4-5 meals for the week and go shopping for those. Then, the night before, we decide what we're having the next day.

5. Each night, plan for the next night.
As I mentioned, we don't determine the dates of the meals in advance. We generally talk about the plan a day or two in advance so that we can lay down any necessary meat or other freezer items. So far, this has worked really well for us.

This method has allowed us to meld our two styles together. When he's gone on deployment, I still plan out the week day by day. However, I've learned to adjust and modify when he's home. I have to say that our method of meal planning together works quite well for our different styles and we produce much less waste this way.

How do you meal plan with others? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!


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