I have never felt quite normal (cue jokes from my husband). It wasn’t always the case, but yes, I can now embrace my weirdness with open arms. You see – in the most simplistic of personality type terms, I am a Type-B. Not a planner, not a scheduler, not a detail-oriented person (unless I have to be). My head is in the clouds and I have a thousand ideas a minute running chaotically around my brain. I am feeeeeeelings-driven, and I like to keep things open-ended.
You probably see where this is going.
I’ve read a bajillion posts about menu planning, but all of them seem to be aimed at those Type-A personalities that already have things under control.
You know the ones: they love nailing down schedules and plans and then following them in great detail. They aren’t the fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants sorts… they thrive on order and predictability.
Those of us who are more on the Type-B side of things (to be specific: I’m an INFP) might struggle a bit more with homemaking conventions such as menu planning.
The very idea of committing to a set menu plan ahead of time might wrinkle up your nose.
“How on earth am I supposed to know what I’ll feel like eating on a Friday, when it’s only Sunday now?!” I think to myself. And so it has gone, around and around in my head, for the last twelve years of my job as a homemaker.
The problem is, I’ve heard all of the glowing reviews and recommendations for having a menu planned ahead of time: you save money because you’re not left with take-out at the end of a busy day, you eat better food because you have the ingredients on hand to make delicious and healthy meals, you waste less ingredients that randomly land in your cart without a plan…
You’re preaching to the choir here – I’m already convinced. But how to make it happen on a practical and consistent level considering my personality? That was my conundrum until recently.
I don’t know about your house, but my people seem to want to eat every single blessed day. Multiple times a day, too. It’s pretty much a given. I can skip cleaning the bathroom for a few weeks (shhh!) and I can ignore the dust bunnies under the bed for months, but I cannot just skip out on feeding my family – they get grouchy.
Besides, I think my ravenous pregnancy appetite is still in effect (yes, my baby is now 2.5 years old. Shush.) Mama needs a good, square meal too!
So what’s a Type-B dreamer to do? There are honestly only so many nights that I can get away with serving bacon and eggs, pancakes, or tuna melts. My family tends to start revolting if we eat breakfast food every meal for days (though Ron Swanson would heartily approve). Not that, uh, I’ve done that. Ahem.
This is where I need to tap in to the lesser-used side of my brain that loves organization and scheduling. It’s not my strong suit, but sometimes in order to be my best self, I need to discipline myself to go there. And I can do it – it just takes some intentionality and work.
I have actually found a system that I love a lot. I’ve been using Plan to Eat (an online menu planner) for the last few months, and it has been really working out well for me. As I’ve eased in to the menu planning world, I’ve noticed a few key aspects of my routine that are absolutely crucial to my continued success as a Type-B menu planner.
5 key Points in Successful Type-B Menu Planning:
As much as I swoon over old-fashioned paper with colourful pens (I am experimenting with a paper day planner this year, actually), I absolutely cannot commit to a paper menu plan. It feels way too restrictive for those inevitable times where I change my mind.
With Plan to Eat I actually just drag and drop meals around to my heart’s content. Wake up on Tuesday and decide I feel like eating Friday’s meal tonight? Switcheroo. It needs to be that simple for me, or else I’ll abandon the plan altogether. I also love that it’s always there, in my computer, and I can’t lose the piece of paper under my fridge or find it covered in two-year-old marker artwork.
It’s just one of the many features of Plan to Eat, but the fact that I can just drag and drop recipes in to my planner and have it automatically add the ingredients to the grocery list is pretty cool. I don’t have to painstakingly go through each recipe line-by-line and write down ingredients on my list.
I also don’t have to thumb through hundreds of pages of cookbooks (or hundreds of recipes on my Pinterest boards) unless I feel like it. With a digital menu planner, you input your recipes once (so yeah, a bit of up front time investment) and then you can plan them again and again with a simple click. All of your family faves are right there in the sidebar, ready to be planned.
3. Accounts for my absent-minded tendencies
I have to be completely honest: the thing that keeps me the most sane in this menu planning thing is that the Plan to Eat mobile website on my phone lets me access my grocery list at the store!
This is revolutionary for those of us who might have a habit of running out to the grocery store but forgetting the list on the fridge. I’ve completely abandoned my paper list in favour of having my digital list available at all times on my phone, and IT. IS. GLORIOUS.
4. Imports online recipes
I’m a blogger who posts recipes fairly often, and I totally understand the conundrum of menu planning from a variety of sources and how confusing and muddled that can get. Paper cookbooks, ebooks, recipes on blogs, and more. I love being able to collate all of my faves in to my PTE account, including the easy import feature for recipes online.
When I’m on a page with a recipe, I click the little PTE button that I have in my browser, and it imports ingredients and directions, and a photo – all with credit back to the source so that I know where it came from. Perfect.
5. Legitimately saves me time
Before I started using an online menu planner, I was dubious of that whole “saves you time!” claim. Sure, I didn’t have to figure out what was for dinner each night… but I was spending several hours in a menu planning session just figuring out recipes that we wanted to use, writing it all down (including where to find the recipe again), erasing and re-doing it when I inevitably needed to make tweaks, and then painstakingly writing out a shopping list with every last ingredient.
With the conveniences of my new system, I actually save time in lots of ways. That’s a non-negotiable for me.
So, I’m off and running on my menu planning journey. Do you menu plan? Does it come easily to you? What tools do you use?
This post was sponsored by Plan to Eat because they’re awesome. All type-B ramblings and opinions are my very own.
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I’m with you on the struggles of menu planning! So far, the only plan that has worked for me is a dry erase board of weekly meal ideas. Once a week, I (sometimes) write what meals we “could” have this week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I don’t assign days to anything, but it helps to see what could be done with what I have on hand and is a visual reminder to thaw something the night before, if needed, or to use that almost over ripe veggie still sitting in the fridge. I’m still a work in progress when it comes to cooking so many meals per week.
I can totally relate!! Finally someone who knows how I feel….about menu planning. I thought it was just me. Thank you.
Hello fellow INFP Type-B Dreamer, I loved your post! I too struggle with meal planning – thanks for a new, light-hearted, approach.
As an INTP, I like it in theory, but rebel in practice. I’ll have to check your system out. Thanks for the post!
Hmm…I’m intrigued! I’ve tried the paper systems to and inevitably I end up at the grocery without the list or, like you said, I change my mind or our schedule changes. I’ll check this out!
“Those of us who are more on the Type-B side of things (to be specific: I’m an INFP) might struggle a bit more with homemaking conventions such as menu planning.” This made me laugh out loud! Yes. Yes, I do struggle with homemaking conventions. LOL
Thanks for sharing how this works for you. I’m still a die-hard pen and paper planner, but I may just be persuaded to digital one of these days!
Oh, homemaking conventions, how you toy with us xNFPs. #solidarity 😉