Okay, peeps, this is mostly a triathlon blog, so some of you might just need to tune out this post, but I think it's related, so I'm posting it! When I am training hard the first thing to go out the door is meal planning. When I loose time, I neglect to sit down and plan, I'm in pure "survival shopping mode". It's a solid fact that meal planning your week saves you money, and helps you to eat healthy more balanced meals. I'm sure there is some study out there proving it. And when you are training hard and racing hard, saving money is what you most likely need to be doing. I wish I could claim this idea as my own, but actually Troy came up with it on a whim, and I implemented it. His idea was to have a magnet for each common meal that we make. When we plan for the week we could just fill in a sheet that is taped on the fridge with magnets for what we want to eat. Then if we had a binder that had a sheet for each meal, even if it's for something simple like "salmon with rice and veg" that explained how to make that meal to back up each of the magnets.

This would enable us to: - Easily plan a weeks meal: scan magnets, pick what looks good, and stick on sheet. - Easily create a grocery list: flip to page in binder and write down what we don't already have - Cooking is easy: with each meals directions written out, Troy can make a meal while I am training (cooking is usually my deal, which means when I'm training Troy ends up with hamburgers, pizza, and fried rice, but he's good with directions)

Tonight I implemented the plan.

I found these great magnet sheets at Office Depot. They were under $4 for a pack of 4 and even though I bought two packs, one would have sufficed.

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You peel the sticky sheet off the back of the magnet, then stick a piece of paper on it.

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Then cut the paper to fit the magnet.

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Then start thinking of recipes and write them down on the paper. I got tons of recipes on one sheet by just being space conscious. I made several "leftovers" magnets, and made multiples of breakfast items since we don't have a different breakfast every day, usually just 1-2 different ones a week. Same with lunches, I made some magnets that said "same" so I could put one lunch in the lunch area on Monday, and then put "same" for the other days.

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Cut them out and stick them on the fridge. I kept them to the top half, so that Annie doesn't get "curious".

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I also made a few magnets to remind us of events that seem to happen weekly, like track club, Sonja racing, Troy racing. You could get creative here. I may add some that say "Troy cooks" or "Sonja cooks", something to that effect.

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Then you can "meal plan". I printed out this sheet, which is the template I use to meal plan on a regular basis.

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Lastly I pulled all the recipes I have for meals on the magnets, I labeled the end of the paper with the exact name on the magnet, and stuck them in a huge binder alphabetically. Now Troy can find the meal easily.

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I also made a list of meals that I made magnets for but don't have recipes for (the ones that live in my head) and plan to work through those this week to create a sheet on each of them.

Troy loved seeing Type A Sonja attack his idea with a vengeance and we did the meal plan for next week in about 2 minutes. I made the grocery list in about 5 minutes. It was so much easier!

I love to try new recipes and I think this system will be easy to incorporate new recipes into. I put lots of blank sheet protectors in the binder so I can just slide a new recipe into, and I put spare magnets on the side of the fridge, ready for a new meal to be written on them.

Not totally triathlon related, but I hope it can help some of you out there!

More Resources: - This Week for Dinner: Jane outlines some meal planning tips - Definitely not Martha: Leslie outlines her meal planning process with a nice excerpt on how to organize your grocery list (step #5) - Meal Planning 101: I like the idea of making a pre-made grocery list where you just have to check what you need, I would add a "quantity" section next to each ingredient. - Simple Mom: this is a great link for A-Z menu planning.

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