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The first week of January is traditionally the time of setting unrealistic expectations of what we can accomplish in the coming year. New Years Resolutions are all the rage. I was happy to see that January of 2022 broke this trend, however. Fewer people than ever were planning to make unrealistic decisions to change their life in an unsustainable way.
Part of homesteading is choosing sustainability. When you resolve to start a homestead you want to be sure the changes you’re making are reasonable and actionable. Building a sustainable lifestyle is hard work. If you’re on the journey to becoming the homesteader of your dreams, you want hard work with real results.
This January we’re launching a new series of blog posts on Building a Sustainable Lifestyle. We’ve decided to start that series with a crucially important piece of sustainable homesteading: Meal Planning
One of my favorite tools for tackling meal plans is the Freezeasy system.
You can check it out and sign up Here!
What is Meal Planning
Meal planning is exactly what it sounds like – planning your meals in advance. How much meal planning you do depends on you and what you can reasonably expect to accomplish in your day. Many women like to do a month ahead of time and then set aside a weekend to do freezer and batch cooking. This allows them to set up a month’s worth of food, cut back on grocery shopping, and have more time for other things. Meals are ready to pull out of the freezer and need only be heated before serving, rather than cooking from scratch.
Some homesteads plan out all three meals. Others only dinner.
“I prefer to plan out a month of dinners and then make breakfast and lunch based on how we’re feeling. For days when Husbando has to go to work, I batch-cook prepared meals that we keep in the freezer for him. He heats them in the microwave when he gets to his lunch.”
Why Meal Planning is Sustainable Homesteading
Meal planning is a huge part of building a sustainable homestead because it helps you figure out your food. One of the greatest benefits to planning your meals ahead of time is that you can adjust your menu to fit what’s in season. And if you’re eating what’s in season then you can grow more of what you like to eat!
Creating a meal plan can also help you with your garden planning at the start of the new year. While it’s not too hard to figure out what you want to plant, knowing what your family will actually eat can be much harder. For example, Pops and I love cucumbers and tomatoes. We grow tons of them, but I’m the only one that will eat eggplant. Husbando really only eats potatoes, and Grammie needs to limit her consumption of Nightshades (that’s things like tomatoes and sweet peppers). Knowing all of this, and how many dinners I cook throughout the year that use these ingredients, it’s easier for me to figure out how many tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers I need to grow, not just to eat fresh, but also for canning!
Creating a Meal Plan Template and Sticking to It
Creating a meal plan and sticking with it are the biggest challenges we face, simply because I like to have flexibility with my meals. That’s why I keep myself to only planning out dinners. It’s a lot easier to stick to dinner plans than having my whole months’ of meals planned out and then feeling like I MUST eat eggs for breakfast when I’m feeling more like oatmeal.
As with anything in homesteading, you have to find what works for you. There are lots of options out there to help. Freezeasy is one of my favorites because of the different types of meal plans they have and the awesome tools Erin Chase sells to make batch freezing easier.
The most important thing is to allow yourself some flexibility. Let the situation dictate, to some extent, what meals will actually be eaten or which ingredients will actually be purchased. And always try, every month, to eat your pantry and refrigerator empty. There is nothing more counter-productive to meal planning than a fridge full of leftovers that have to be thrown away at the end of the month.