*Affiliate links appear in this post. That means I will earn a very small percentage from purchases made through that link. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
So, what’s old school meal planning (OSMP)? It’s the type of meal planning that my husband and I mock every time we think of the “planned weeknight dinners” we both endured as kids.
For example, Sunday was always “Meatloaf Night” and Monday was always “Pasta Night”, and, as a very special treat, Friday was “Chinese Take-Out Night”. The best part about this (not the best part), was our parents never strayed from the menu. This menu was SET IN STONE!
Don’t like meatloaf, don’t eat.
This was the life of a Gen-X kid (and many kids before us), at least until our families were introduced to fast food and credit cards. But for some, like my husband, the weeknight family meal was always the same, never changing. A meal plan his parents still pretty much follow to this day.
While I do think it a little silly to eat the exact same thing on the exact same day of every single week for the rest of your life, there is a little something to be said about its simplicity and its consistency.
Before adopting my version of “Old School Meal Planning” I was wasting money left and right on unnecessary food every week. Be it groceries or fast food, money was flying out the window. Since I never had a solid plan in place, I just bought, whatever. We had a few go-to meals, but everything else was up in the air.
Buy food, don’t eat food, food goes bad, toss food, rinse repeat.
The idea of making a homemade dinner for the entire family after a long day of work stressed me out. I no longer wanted to spend any unnecessary time of my day to prep a meal and cook that meal only to hear “um, I’m not sure I like it. Can I make a sandwich?”.
And, that was my husband.
I was done spending time prepping, cooking and delivering an end product that no one would eat. And then, of course, the food would get tossed, and thus, more money wasted.
At one point I declared that I was no longer cooking. I was done. They were ungrateful and if they didn’t want to eat what I made, they were on their own.
Upon reflection, I was complicating the process. I was stuck in the Pinterest/Food Magazine trap. Focusing on only the healthiest meal options for my family meals. If it looks good in the picture, it must taste good in real life, right?
Turns out, no, it does not.
After a few months of throwing in my towel, my idea of what I should eat had started to shift. I was intermittent fasting and, at a certain point in my journey, I hit a plateau and stopped losing weight. In an attempt to get the scale moving again, I decided to start swapping out some of my weeknight fast food, the food we were eating because I “threw in the towel”, for homemade, whole food options.
But, to maintain consistency, I knew that I had to find quick and easy solutions that my family would enjoy.
Enter our Weekly Menu.
Knowing that changes had to be made, I started to research quick and easy meals, and worked to put my version of my “weekly meal plan” in place. It took some time, some failed meals, but after a pretty short time, I was able to compile enough quick, easy and delicious meals to put a meal plan in place.
Pick your Staples.
While we don’t eat the same thing on the same day every week, we do have two to three family meal ”staples” that we make every week. These are meals that can be whipped up when we just don’t feel like chopping or prepping one of our easy meals.
Staple dishes include:
- Pasta with basil & fresh tomatoes – The only dinner my husband knows how to make, but it is delicious! He and his friends call it “Bro-mance Pasta” and he will proudly make it for all friends as requested.
- Turkey Tacos – You can’t get any easier than picking up a packet of taco seasoning, cooking up some ground turkey, and making turkey tacos. We have our favorite sides, but even those are easy to prepare.
- Three-Step Homemade Pizza – Once I nailed this homemade pizza, it made its way into our weekly rotation. We love it and eat it every single week.
Compile your Easy Meal List.
Your easy meals are the meals that you will include on the days you don’t have a staple meal planned. Easy meals are quick, easy meals that you know your family will love.
If you are on Pinterest, check out my “I Tried It” board, you will see all the meals that I have made for my family, meals that my family still loves! While I don’t make all of these meals every week, I know that they fit the criteria for what I’m looking for in a weeknight meal and make it to our weekly meal plan often.
Weekly Dinner Menu Prep and the Grocery List.
With all of these meals in mind, make your weekly grocery list. I use the Knock Knock What To Eat Pad when planning my meals for the week. I love this little notepad because it has a little box for every day of the week to add what you want to cook for dinner. It was made for “Old School Meal Planning”!
Every weekend, I take a few minutes, write down my staple meals, ask my husband what he’s thinking for the additional weekly dinners, and just like that, our dinners are planned.
Note: There are a lot of spaces on the Knock Knock Pad to include breakfast foods, lunch foods, and snacks. This little pad is perfect!
Now, from there, I rip my Knock Knock list page from the pad, turn it over, and write out my grocery list. I pull up the meals we chose, check the cabinets to make sure we don’t buy duplicates, and create our list.
I love that little Knock Knock list. It comes in handy for us.
Why OSMP works for us.
First, OSMP is simple, and I LOVE simple. OSMP takes the stress out of meal planning and cooking my meals. Knowing what to expect when you cook your meal, just works.
By keeping the meal plan and the recipes quick, simple, delicious and consistent, I’m better prepared to cook food for my family without the stress of not knowing how to prepare it and how the recipe will turn out.
At this stage, I’m so used to making some of these meals that I can very quickly grab their ingredients on a whim in those emergency situations when I know there is nothing at home for me to make. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stopped at the store on my way home from work to grab a few things to make one of our favorites meals.
By creating consistency in your meals, and creating a good solid grocery list based on those meals, you can better determine what you will buy every week. By doing this you minimize the amount of unnecessary foods that might otherwise go to waste if you didn’t have a plan for that food.
You can also stock up on commonly used items when they go on sale at the store! I’m not a couponer, but if I see canned diced tomatoes on sale at the store, I stock up. I have a few recipes that call for diced tomatoes, so by stocking up during a sale, it will save me money when those meals make it into the rotation. Now, if I didn’t have those meal plan recipes, I wouldn’t know to buy these items if they were on sale.
Ok, so I’m an intermittent faster (IF) and my schedule has me eating only one main meal a day (plus some snacks here and there). And, that meal is dinner. So, if I’m only eating one main meal a day, it better be good. When I swapped my crappy processed food dinner for our new whole food dinners, I started to lose weight again.
Sometimes, it’s the little things that your body needs.
Note: For those unfamiliar with intermittent fasting, please don’t worry about how many “calories” I’m consuming. I eat all of my food during what we call our “eating window”. So, instead of eating all day long (breakfast, lunch and dinner), we eat all of our food in a shortened eating window and fast the remainder of the day. For example, my IF schedule is 18/6. That means I fast for 18 hours and eat my food during a 6-hour window. This includes a small snack, my glass of red wine every night and my very hearty dinner.
So, what do you think of “Old School Meal Planning (OSMP)”? I mean, it’s no meatloaf on a Sunday night, but it has helped me reduce stress, save money, lose some weight and eat some great dinners every week!
What do you do to help eliminate stress, save money and lose weight when it comes to your weekly meals?