#damselNOTindistress Life Hack: Meal Planning

I briefly showed my meal planning process on Instagram Stories but long time friend Doug asked me to do a post about it so he could copy my system and he figured some of you might want to as well!

While we have a grocery store in Ridgway, it is prohibitively expensive to use it as my main shopping location. This means I have to drive 25 miles north to Montrose to do my grocery shopping. In order to avoid spending my gas money on necessities and not on play, I have to be efficient with my trips.

 

Meal Planning:

I use Google Calendar to do my meal planning. I created a calendar specifically called “food” and I use it to make sure that I have a way to feed myself every meal during the week. Using Calendar means that I have flexibility to shift things around if something comes up (I just eat leftovers instead of cooking a new meal, I accept an invite to go eat out with friends, etc.) without erasing or just making mental adjustments. The calendar format means I can also see what events are coming up during the week: for example, I’m phone banking Thursday night and the host is providing dinner so I don’t have to feed myself.

I’ve gotten more into cooking lately so I tend to sit down with my latest go-to cookbooks (Run Fast, Eat Slow and Run Fast, Cook Fast, Eat Slow) and pick out meals I want to make that week. In general, this happens sitting in my kitchen on Sunday night when the pantry gets a little bit low so I can scheme ways to use any leftover ingredients floating around the kitchen.

 

Grocery List & Google Tasks

As I add meals to the calendar whether it’s simple things like sandwiches or more elaborate meals, I open Google Tasks in the calendar window and create a grocery list from the ingredients. Google Tasks is definitely not perfect but I do like that I can have it in the same window as the calendar when I’m putting things together.

I started doing this just before school started (yay, structure in my life!) and I’ve started organizing the list by how I shop in the store so that I can shop efficiently. (You’ll note that I also put general Montrose errands on this list. Google Tasks only supports one level of subtasks so City Market doesn’t get a task but Home Depot, Jo-Ann’s, auto parts stores, etc. do.)

 

In Store: Google Tasks App

While shopping, I use the Google Tasks app to make sure that I get everything on my list. I am totally that person actively walking through the store on my phone because it’s my list.¬†I have things set to not show completed tasks, that way my list actually gets smaller as I walk through the store.

Before I hit the checkout, I quickly pursue the completed items list before I leave out a key component for something by accidentally marking it as completed. The next week, I just clear all completed items before shopping so I have a fresh start that week.

 

Limitations

This doesn’t particularly affect me but you can’t share Google Tasks between people while calendars can (although my wise friend Liz opened a Gmail account with her partner for household bills so that might be a workaround since Google Tasks supports multiple sign-ins).

I would appreciate collapsible sub tasks in Tasks as well. I think it would help me be better about forming a “Montrose game plan” if I could just see the stops I need to make.

 

Why it works for me

I have a bad habit of leaving lists various places or starting multiple lists. Sometimes¬† I’ll think of something while I’m at school or out and about and like the ability to use the Tasks app to add things to my Montrose list. I like this more than the commercial grocery apps because it’s more flexible.