When the topic of meal planning comes up, there are typically two big schools of thought– there are those who despise it and find it tedious and boring and there are those who LOVE it and are passionate list-makers. Within each of those, of course, there are sub-groups, but that’s the the general breakdown.
The planners and list-makers will work tirelessly to try to convince the resistant free-spirits that adopting this process will improve their lives– they’ll save time! save money! be prepared for anything!
They’re not wrong, really. There’s a lot to be said for planning ahead and there are clear benefits. The dedicated meal planners believe in the process and they tend to want to teach others how to implement it. And that’s great.
On the flip-side, there’s the crew who hates the whole idea. “How am I supposed to know today, Sunday, what I’m going to want for dinner on Wednesday?” they ask. “What if I change my plans?” And, finally, “Who wants to spend so much time scanning fliers, making lists, and organizing meals?”
They’re not wrong, either. While it might shock the most devoted list-lovers, some people really, really don’t like planning. It may not come naturally and, thus, it’s harder. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to be done sometimes– but if it’s optional? Some folks would rather skip it.
We have those who carefully plan. We have those who fly by the seats of their pants.
Here’s what I have to say about it all–
It doesn’t have to be ALL or NOTHING.
I spent years crafting careful monthly meal plans and compiling the accompanying detailed lists, calculating quantities precisely. I would sit with a cute little printed-off “meal plan” from one blog or another and dutifully pencil in all our meals.
It worked. It obviously didn’t kill me. And, honestly, I’d been convinced it was the best (read: ONLY) way to be a good homemaker, so I went along with it.
But then, a couple years ago, I found myself in ALDI one day with absolutely no list in hand. I knew we needed stuff. We were down to total dregs. I walked through the sliding glass door and took a deep breath.
And I shopped.
I didn’t worry about meal plans or ideas. I simply walked the aisles, grabbing items that I knew we used on a consistent basis and those that were stellar deals. I maybe grabbed an impulse buy or two, but not much. I had a strong, intuitive sense of what I used in the kitchen and I just rolled with it.
When I got home, I unpacked and restocked.
And then I made a plan.
Taking in what I now had in the fridge and pantry, I formulated a plan for what sounded good and fit our schedule for the week. I could really visualize things together and come up with creative new ideas because all the things were THERE, in front of me. Since I’m not much of a “recipe” girl, anyway, this was incredibly freeing and fun for me.
That’s how I meal plan now.
I know some of you are wringing your hands over my lack of a shopping list. I know some of you are sitting there thinking, “But you still had to PLAN.” I’m not saying that my method would be perfect for everyone, or even the majority.
But it’s perfect for me.
And that’s what I really want to convey– when you read all these articles touting the value and importance of lists and meal-planning, keep in mind that there’s absolutely no reason you can’t implement some planning in a way that fits your own lifestyle and personality. There are people who really, truly LOVE lists. And that’s awesome! There are people who find that their lives are just so much better with a detailed plan. Nothing wrong with that!
But, if you don’t fit in those categories? You’re not broken. And you don’t need to fight your own instincts in order to do the “right” thing.
Take it from a girl whose meal planning wouldn’t pass muster with many but who’s finally found her groove.