You Asked For It: Plan It- Don't Panic! {A 6-Week Meal Planning Challenge}
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You Asked For It: Plan It- Don’t Panic! {A 6-Week Meal Planning Challenge}

You Asked For It: Plan It- Don't Panic! {A 6-Week Meal Planning Challenge}

All those who know that meal planning is a good idea, but struggle to actually do it, put up their hands! (Is yours raised?)

I definitely relate. I have been meal planning on and off (more on than off) for about 6 years. I know the benefits. I write about them. My budget and our family’s nutritional status can attest to the fact that meal planning most certainly works.

Still, it isn’t always easy. We go through different seasons of life and routines changes. We fall out of the habit. We run into bumps along the road. We become uninspired in our cooking and planning. For so many different reasons, sometimes it’s just hard to meal plan, or at the very least, hard to pick it back up once we’ve let it drop.

This summer, that’s exactly what I did. I let it drop for the most part while I dealt with first trimester sickness, hosted homestay students, went on vacation, had impromptu summer fun with my husband and kids, and worked a whole lot on our home based businesses. I got out of routine and off-track with my planning.

Now, it’s time to get back to it. No more 5pm panic about what to eat. No more compromise meals that are only sort of healthy because I wasn’t thinking ahead enough to make something truly wholesome and nourishing. No more last-minute expenses for things we’ve run out of that so easily blow the budget.

So who’s with me?

The 6-Week Meal Planning Challenge

Plan It- Don’t Panic was inspired by some conversations on the Keeper of the Home Facebook page, as several women and I interacted about the HelloMornings challenge that I am a part of for the second time this fall. I had already been ruminating on the idea of a challenge that held us accountable and helped to inspire us to meal plan, and when I mentioned the idea, it was obvious that there was a need.

The basic idea? To encourage and hold each other accountable as we purposefully plan out regular, weekly meal plans.

The goals? To serve healthier food, help our strained grocery budgets, and put meals on the table with a smile (and not a sigh).

They say that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Since this is only a weekly event (although you will have to be diligent daily to follow through on what you’ve planned), I’m going to give us about double that to form this menu planning habit. We’ll do it for 42 days, or 6 weeks.

How does the challenge work?

Every Monday morning, you can expect to come to Keeper of the Home to find my own meal plan for the week, including recipe links and one new recipe each week.

There will also be a link up, for all those who blog and want to stay accountable by sharing their own meal plans. For those who don’t, this will also be a valuable place for you to find menu inspiration and new recipes!

Even more important (in my opinion) is that there will be an accountability portion of the challenge. Some of us are very good at setting our own goals and holding ourselves to them. For others (and I do include myself in this), it really helps to know that someone else is paying attention to whether you actually accomplish your goal or at least make a sincere effort.

Ways to stay accountable and be a part of this challenge:

:: Join our Facebook group, Plan It- Don’t Panic, where we will be sharing recipes, meal ideas, inspiration, encouragement, our own progress updates and more. To join, just click on this link and near the top right hand of the page, click on Ask to Join Group. I will approve your requests as fast as I can.

:: Use the Twitter hashtag #mealplanit to join in at any time with other challenge participants. We’ll share recipes and ideas, let each other how we’re doing, and just chat healthy, simple and family-friendly meals in general.

:: For all bloggers, share your meal plan every Monday and join the link up here at Keeper of the Home. This will happen every Monday, starting September 26th, and go for the whole 6 weeks of the challenge. If you’re lacking inspiration and ideas, this will be the perfect place to visit every Monday!

As we get ready…

Remember, the point of these things is to be a help and encouragement to you in this challenge, and NOT just another thing to do. Truly. Use them as much or as little as you want and need to.

I would also suggest that you spend a few minutes brainstorming why you really want to do this. To save money? To serve better meals? To improve nutrition? To reduce stress and late-afternoon panic? Why don’t you take an index card or small piece of paper and write your goals and motivations, then stick them on your fridge. Knowing the WHY behind what you are doing can really fuel you when you’re struggling to create a new habit.

Make sure to check back later next week, as I will be sharing some helpful resources for learning how to meal plan, different methods of meal planning, places to find wholesome and family-friendly recipes and more.

And the week after that? Monday, September 26th, we’ll get cracking. I’m excited to do this with you!

So, who’s with me? Are you ready to tackle this 6-week menu planning challenge?

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  1. This is a great idea that has positive, immediate results. I’m planning on joining via my blog but not on social media…that’s just too much in an already overloaded day. I spend enough time reading blogs, commenting, etc. to chew through more time on social media and appreciate your making this available to those of us who blog only.
    Generally, I cook three meals a day and it’s a real struggle to keep up; this will help, thank you.

  2. I do meal plan but there is always moments in life that get us off it. We were blessed with extra $$ for food recently so I am certainly going to be careful with it and buy more healthier options for my family of 8!

  3. What a great idea. I already meal plan but lots of times divert my plan midweek when I am tired from work and dont want to cook. The planning is not an issue for me, staying on track during the week is my problem. I am excited to join and get new meal ideas from others!

  4. Amen sister! Let’s get this rolling! I’m a major slacker when it comes to planning meals lately!

  5. I’m in! I do meal plan but I can use a revamp. Plus, now that my DS is eating three squares a day I really need to start planning breakfast and lunch not just dinner.
    I also would love some new recipe ideas. We eat the same thing every month…gets kinda boring.

  6. Oh, I am so in!! I have been trying to do a month long meal plan, as my husband works shift work which changes from day to day, and I often need to cook at odd hours so that I can get him off with a hot meal, and like to have it planned… but honeslty, that’s all in theory, and something I haven’t been able to impliment yet. This will be an excellent way to motivate myself and find new recipes to boost my meagre list!

    1. @Cheryn, I meal plan monthly too. I try to grocery shop monthly but I’m rethinking that a bit. Obviously fresh foods I buy more often but with my natural foods store being so far away I hate to make weekly trips.

    2. Crockpot meals are great so you don’t have to cook at odd hours. I use ours all time. It is very helpful now that my kids are back in school, it gives me more time to help with homework, and evening routines and not be a slave to the stove.

  7. I am also in! I’m going to be giving Hello Mornings a shot as well. I’m hoping that the online accountability will help me–although I think a better word would be “alliance”! We’re not accountable to one another for our actions by any means, but we certainly want to be allied in being excellent keepers of our homes.

  8. This sounds great! I meal plan every week, but recently it’s taken longer and longer and been more and more tedious. I’d love some new ideas and camaraderie!

  9. Thank you for this fabulous idea! I just told my husband that I really need to get back to meal planning, eating healthier, and sticking to our budget better. I also really want to get back to blogging semi-regularly. Great timing – thank you!!!

  10. I’m in, but, honestly, I’m as nervous as this one as I am about Maximize Your Mornings! Why? We JUST found out Tuesday my firstborn (3-year-old) has a gluten and egg allergy! Lunch and dinner have not been so hard so far, but I’m having a really, really hard time with breakfast. I tried baked oatmeal this morning (with gf oats and using flax meal w/ water as an egg substitute). I thought it was super yummy. She took one look and said: “I don’t like it!” I relied heavily on eggs for breakfast, so here we go back to the drawing room! This morning she ate cheese, peas and grapes (all her requests!).

    1. @Erin–The Humbled Homemaker,

      Hi Erin,

      My daughter also has celiac. She was diagnosed last year just after her 10th birthday. It’s been challenging finding things my daughter can eat so I completely understand what you’re going through. Your daughter having the egg allergy makes it even more difficult.

      There are a lot more gluten free products availble in the US than here in Canada. Family members will often pick me up gluten free products when travelling in the States.

      Rice Krispies are available there gf, and also Bisquick so you could make tea biscuits, crepes, pancakes, etc. It’s hard to find a good bread recipe. If I find one I’ll let you know, or if you find one please let me know 🙂 I have a hard time finding snack foods for her to take to school. She’ll often take fresh fruit or fruit roll-ups, fruit snacks, etc.

      Be careful when buying soups etc…usually the brand name (Campbell’s, Heinz, etc) will use wheat flour and the store brands have cornstarch in them instead which celiacs are allowed to have. The same for baked beans, some brands have flour in them and others have cornstarch. It’s a constant battle reading labels at the grocery store 🙂

      Hang in there 🙂 I will try to post some gf recipes that our family enjoy….it’s a good night when I don’t have to cook separate things for everyone (we have 4 kids) 🙂

      Take care~

  11. I’m a little scared…but I’m in. With my growing family (kids 3 1/2 yrs, 2 yrs, 2 months) it is becoming a necessity…one that I really struggle with. Thanks so much for the challenge! (and up coming tips)

  12. This sounds excellent! I’ve just started working on meal planning and it’s been pretty difficult motivating myself to do it. Sometimes we end up not eating until after 10pm and that’s just not going to work out when our little girl starts eating with us. Thanks for the challenge!

  13. So glad you decided to do this! My meal planning has been sporatic to say the least and now that we are homeschooling I really need this now more than ever. Looking forward to it.

  14. This is a great idea, but I won’t be doing it right now. I am still (yes, still) throwing up and having nausea, and just managing what I can. I really thought it would be over by now (15 weeks now). I can’t wait to enjoy food again!

    I think its great you are doing this though! Hope you get lots of people to join you.

  15. I am in! This is an answer to my prayers! =) I will be starting back up with my in-home daycare in two weeks, so this will really help me out! I love trying to meal plan, but it always falls apart. This time, I am excited to make sure that it stays strong!

  16. What perfect timing! I have been thinking that I need to get back into meal planning (I’m on-again-off-again, too) and just last night got out the binder of meals we love… and then got distracted. Thanks for the motivation!

  17. I am in. A little nervous though. I have been trying to get better about this, but seem to let things get in the way. And frankly, our very tight budget often leaves me uninspired. But I know that if I plan ahead I will be much more creative. Thanks for the challenge.

  18. I am so excited about this! I recently started posting my menu plans, both for others and myself. I know others get in a bind and could use inspiration. But like you, I need the accountability to have a set plan of what we’ll be eating during the week. This idea is wonderful.

  19. I’m in! This is great timing as I am currently establishing the habit of weekly meal planning. I have to do it weekly to accommodate my CSA produce (I don’t know ahead of time what we’ll get – depends on what they harvest that day!). Its super yummy, but I struggle with the last minute planning.

  20. I SO need this right now! I have been so lax on meal planning lately and it has been so frustrating. But once you’re out of the habit, it’s hard to get back in! Thanks for doing this challenge Stephanie, I’m excited about it!

    1. @Emily @ Live Renewed, I am so with you! It has been a hectic summer since we’ve been living in our camper as we travel around the country. You would think having all the extra time would make meal planning easy, but … it has been a little more of a challenge than I would have thought.
      SO looking forward to this challenge as we continue to visit the country!

  21. I don’t really meal plan, which keeps us in a rut with the same rotation of “plain” food for our 4 & 6 yro. I know meal planning would be better for our family – not just health but budget and stress level. I need a push – so thank you!

  22. I just found your website and I’m loving it so far:) This sounds like a great idea! I’m in:) My husband and I usually figure out our meals on Saturday morning and do our shopping then. We don’t eat very healthy so this would be a great time to get new recipes and come up with healthier meals. I’m excited to do this challenge with you!:)

  23. Hoping this will help me finally get the ball rolling. Past attempts have been half hearted but our budget could really use better planning for our groceries. Couponing isn’t enough when you want to eat real food only.

  24. I’m in too! I do try to plan our meals, but I write down what I think will work, then we end up changing it around so much that we only eat 2-4 meals out of the whole week as planned! Like, I’ll write in Lasagna but won’t look at the menu till 5, and I throw spaghetti or hamburgers together instead cause its faster. Not only that but I’m trying to follow Eat Fat, Lose Fat to lose weight and help me get pregnant, and so far I’m not doing too great. This could be a huge help! Thanks Stephanie for hosting this!

    1. @jennifer davis, We have two businesses. One is this blog/website (but that isn’t the one that I’ve been pouring extra time into this summer), which is definitely about nutrition. 🙂

      The other is a mobile music school, Resound School of Music, that my husband runs as his full time work. We contract with music teachers and have them travel around to teach lessons in students homes. Seasonally, he needs me to help out in extra ways, especially in the fall with new registrations and scheduling.

  25. I am in! I was formerly Project: Family Cookbook and though I have changed my website, I am still a traditional foodie and would love to share my meal planning with my followers as well as get lots of new ideas from all of the ladies on here! Yeah! Now…to planning for this week! Thanks for hosting Stephanie!

  26. This is a great idea! I love to cook, but struggle with knowing what to make. Since it is Monday morning where do I go to get the meal plan? or do we wait until Sep 26th?

  27. I’m in! I do a meal plan most weeks and have been meaning to start posting them, so this is just the push I needed! Looking forward to it. 🙂

  28. I’m actually working on something akin to this- in preparation for homecoming and the arrival of a new baby after Christmas. I’ve been working on a rotating 5 week plan where I am including all our favorites (esp those whose leftovers make great lunches) and creating the grocery lists to accompany each set of 7 meals. The goal being I can re-arrange them as necessary for our schedule, but the hard part will be done already 🙂

  29. I’m in on this. My biggest problem is not going to be the actual planning of the meal plan as it will be following it. Hopefully the “accountability” will help.

  30. I’m totally in! We used to use E-mealz, but recently (ilke, 3 weeks ago)decided I’d try my hand at doing my own meal planning for a while… this is just the thing I need to get & keep motivated!

  31. Awesome! I’m in! I was actually already planning on re-starting my menu planning this week 🙂 Like you, I slipped out of the routine, but with our new diet due to health reasons, I need to make sure to stay on track. YAY! I am so excited!

    Have a blessed day!

  32. I’m looking forward to this challenge. I am a meal planner…. I love planning menus! It’s the sticking to the plan part that I fall short on. I definitely could use the accountability portion of your challenge. Thanks!

  33. This is great! We started GAPS a month ago and I decided I had better meal plan or else I’d really blow the budget! I’ve been meal planning for 2 weeks now and it’s working out so well and helps me to be so much less stressed come dinner time. I’ve also not wasted any food!! I am totally going to join in…this will be great! Thanks!

  34. This is great! We started GAPS a month ago and I decided I had better meal plan or else I’d really blow the budget! I’ve been meal planning for 2 weeks now and it’s working out so well and helps me to be so much less stressed come dinner time. I’ve also not wasted any food!! I am totally going to join in…this will be great! Thanks!

  35. Ok, I’m in. I used the facebook photo for the group to make button about it on my blog. Now it’s official 😀

  36. I love this challenge. I did menu planning back when my kids were tiny and it was so easy to know what to expect!! We fell out of it and have been out of it for a long time, but I NEED to get back into it. Especially since I am considering taking a part time job… with hours during the evening. I will need to be organized enough to have dinner on the table before I leave. I am doing this challenge to help me get in the habbit of menu planning for when I work.

  37. So excited to get started on Meal Planning, as my live continues to get busier as my children get older it gets more important to have family dinners but harder to get it all done. This challenge will keep me motivated and also give me many ideas along the way. Is there a badge or button I can put on my blog?

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