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How I Meal Plan + FREE Meal Planning Calendar

Recently a good friend of mine sent me an email asking for recipe ideas to share with her group of friends as a way to help everyone get out of a dinner time rut.  In the email, she called me out about how I meal plan and that I’ve “got all of my s*** together” because I meal plan.  I don’t know if I’d go that far, but it did spur the idea to share my meal planning secrets with all of you.

So here are a few tips to help with meal planning and how I typically create a meal plan that lasts almost three weeks!  Plus, you’ll get a great meal planning calendar for yourself.

Get a free weekly menu planning calendar and all the tips to help get your weekly dinners organized!First, I start by writing out a calendar for two weeks (bonus! Just download the one I made for you at the bottom of this post!), only planning dinners.  Then I start to fill in dinner ideas on various days.  I get a lot of dinner inspiration from Pinterest, see all of my dinner ideas here. I also ask my husband if he has any requests and he usually provides an idea or two.  Then I fill in what’s left with past dinners that were a big hit.

A couple tips, first, plan meals that are produce heavy towards the beginning of your two week meal plan.  This way you can use the produce before it goes bad.

I always leave one to two days empty.  Something usually comes up that fills up dinner for a night, or we’ll do leftovers.

Keep in mind days when you’ll be getting home late, or have events going on at night to plan simple and quick dinners.

I tape up my meal plan on the inside of my spice cabinet.  I also leave a pen in the cabinet as well.  It’s an easy spot to check in the morning to see if I need to set anything out.  That pen helps me cross off what we’ve already eaten for dinner. I also adjust the dinners throughout the week if I need to move something around.

Get a free weekly menu planning calendar and all the tips to help get your weekly dinners organized!I try to end my two week meal plan on a Monday or Tuesday because that’s when I tend to grocery shop.  So whatever day works best for you, start your meal plan and end it about two weeks after that.  Once you do it once, you’ll stick to that rotation.

Now, after I’ve written out my meals for two weeks, I start my grocery list.  I go through my meal plan dinner by dinner and add whatever ingredients I don’t have to my grocery list.

My biggest tip for grocery lists is to categorize your list.  I made one here for Thanksgiving that you can download and use.  It helps so much when you’re trying to get through the grocery store because everything you need in one section of the grocery store is in one place on your list.

Recently I’ve started ordering my groceries online and just picking them up at the curb at the grocery store.  I’ve found that it saves so much time and money.  No randomly throwing things in the cart that aren’t on your list.  Plus, grocery shopping with a toddler is NOT fun.  I do find however, that when ordering groceries I tend to not get things that I need. Mostly because I’m not reminded I need them while passing by them in the store.

If you dread dinner time, or dinner time is always chaotic try giving this meal planning thing a chance.  Doing so will help to organize that feeling of uncertainty around dinner time.  I love knowing I have an idea of what to make for dinner.  It’s also a bonus that I already have all of the ingredients at home.

I hope this FREE meal planning calendar will help you on your way to feeling like a dinner time guru!  Click here to download your meal planning calendar!

Get a free weekly menu planning calendar and all the tips to help get your weekly dinners organized!

Weekly Meal Planning Calendar

Have a great weekend! Let me know in the comments if you have any other meal planning tips. I’d love to incorporate them into what I already do.

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FREE Printable Christmas Bucket List

Happy December everyone!  Around here we are in full Christmas celebrating mode.  Decorating, gifting, lights, and baking, it’s all happening now that we’re 25 days away from Christmas!  Let’s all try and make the most out of the season this year and really celebrate it.  To help, I’ve put together a great list of things to get you in the holiday spirit.  Scroll down to see the 2016 Christmas Bucket List.

Get in the holiday spirit with this FREE Christmas Bucket List Printable. Click here for the download!My family has already crossed a few of these fun things off of our list.  Thanks to our cute little town, we’ve attended a tree lighting ceremony and did a carriage ride down Main Street.  Both were so fun and got our holiday season off to a great start!

This bucket list is a great way to make the season not about the “stuff” but about the experiences and memories for you and your kids.  Sitting around and listening to my husband and his siblings talk about their childhood is one of my favorite things.  It was chock full of memories and experiences, traditions and most of all love.  This is the time of year to make those memories with your own kids.

How great will it be in 10, 15, or 20 years from now to hear your kids talk about how every Christmas your family did X,Y, and Z.  They will love having the tradition and doing the same thing every year.

I hope this bucket list will get you excited for the season and give you ideas of traditions to start with your own family.  There are 16 ideas listed and plenty of time to do them all.  Even if you have to combine a few.  Make hot chocolate, then go around the neighborhood and look at Christmas lights.  Or, put a puzzle together while watching a Christmas movie.  There are a lot of ways to cross all of these off throughout the season.

To download and print out your bucket list, click on the photo above.  What things would you add to your Christmas Bucket List?  What holiday traditions do you have?  Merry Christmas!

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Celebrating everyday!