To get back some time to learn all of these things (Data Science, Data Analytics, DevOps), I wrote a meal planner, because I needed one.

A huge amount of all my time is taken up with managing the necessities of life, and eating is a pretty basic necessity. One of my big goals is to make it easier for people to meet their needs by getting good at things, which makes it easier to get them done, and therefore less time consuming. If they can save time and money, so much the better.

Since we all have to eat, and I've gotten pretty good at this particular problem, I present to you my approach to... How to Meal Plan!

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I made a meal planner! This photo spread includes this week's meal plan... Look! I'm using it myself, so you know it's gotta be good. I'm just gonna quote my *description on Amazon* (woot, woot!l This meal planner is suitable for busy people who want to make getting dinner on the table a bit easier. Three sections let you keep track of the contents of your kitchen, keep a list of meal ideas, and make flexible weekly plans. The sections work together so that when it's time to make decisions, you can simply pick from a list instead of trying to think of an answer. Weekly planning helps you use up the contents of your pantry. Revise on the fly as necessary. Include special events and adapt to changing schedules. Tested with new and experienced meal planners, this provides just enough guidance to simplify your process. US store: Max-Flex Meal Planning: A Six-Month Planner for Busy People who Need to Eat Every Day https://www.amazon.com/dp/B085DQXFQH/ Canadian store: Max-Flex Meal Planning: A Six-Month Planner for Busy People who Need to Eat Every Day https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B085DQXFQH/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_Gw6xEb7XT3YMN

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In this planner, I take a "start where you are" approach. I'll help you build running lists of what you've got on hand and what your favourite meals are, as well as encourage you to do a weekly check in on what needs to be used up before it goes bad.

I don't provide any menus, as I have always found that other people's plans do not work for my life. What I do provide is space for you to build lists so that you don't have to remember what you enjoy eating. I don't know why that is so hard, but for some of us, it is. And then we get stuck in ruts.

How to prevent that 4:30 pm panicky feeling...

Steps:

  1. Keep track of what's in your house (pantry, freezer, and longer-term fridge contents
  2. Keep lists of meals that you like to make, meals you want to make, and family favourites
  3. Each week, look at what still needs to get used up in your fridge (previous leftovers, veggies you have too much of, things that are going to go stale)
  4. Check your calendar for special events, days that only part of the family is going to be home, days with guests... include that information on your plan.
  5. Only now, you make a list of dinners you're going to make that week. Pick things that are appropriate for the amount of time you have available. Things you like. Things on your list.
  6. Pick up the groceries to fill in the gaps (and restock your pantry if necessary).
  7. Each day, you should be able to pick one of the remaining meals from the list and be confident that you have everything you need.
  8. If you make something new and you think, "Hey, I should make that again," add it to the list of dinners.
  9. Rinse and repeat.

This approach moves the hard part of decision making to your down time, reducing the weekly "planning" task to choosing from a list of options... Options you selected in the first place, not idealized menus that require you to use a cookbook every night. Who has time to use a cookbook every night?!?

Also, my daughter laughed in all the right places during the intro and instructions, so you should probably buy it and find out why.

Available for purchase on Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B085DQXFQH

And Amazon.ca: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B085DQXFQH

A note: I provide space in the planner for five main dishes, since I found that if I planned seven meals for a week, we wound up with too many leftovers and things went bad. There is extra space on the page if you really want to have all seven meals planned.