What's a menu planner?
A menu planner is a simple food planning tool, that when used correctly is designed to help you bring more awareness and ownership to your food story. Your food story includes all the things you do or don’t do to look after your food needs, and also all the things you tell yourself about it.
Why I use a menu planner
I have used a menu planner for several years now. It helps me be intentional but flexible, avoiding chaos or boredom. Also, when life is particularly challenging I have always naturally gravitated towards placing more of my attention on my food life which includes taking ownership for what I would like to eat and taking the time to prepare it. For as long as I can remember, a menu planner has been at the center of a larger spiral of healing for me that begins with my food story.
(*Please note the the free course/menu planner referred to in this video are no longer available.)
My Menu Planner Story
When I first moved to New Zealand from Utah I was dealing with a lot of STUFF!!! My mother had died of breast cancer recently, my sister and I had parted ways on not so pleasant terms, my partner and I were renting a small space where a dog was barking 24/7 and I had not slept for days, I had mistakenly pulled up the other neighbors potato plants (which has come to be known as the potato bitch incident), I had no idea what I was going to do for work after leaving my steady job at a University for 5 years, and I was trying to decide if becoming a parent for the first time felt right.
Needless to say, I felt pretty chaotic. The one thing I felt I had some control over was to spend more time looking after my food needs, in a gentle, present, nurturing way. This included spending more time in the actual planning and preparation parts of my food life. I noticed that I was less focused on what was not working in my life and more focused on something I had the ability to influence.
The more I have implemented this same shift in focus during challenging times, the more likely I am to care for other needs I have as well. I am more likely to get more movement, sleep better, be more resistant to stress, and have the clarity of thought to work through challenges that require my full attention.
How I use a menu planner
Although you can print or fill the menu planner I've designed, I am a clipboard nerd, and lover of paper and pen so I prefer to print my menu planner and use it along with my weekly task list and previously created food ideas. I will show you this below.
My Process Looks Like This
1. Brainstorm a list of foods/meals I love. Once I have done this step I don’t need to do it again, I just add to it.
2. Using my menu planner, I identify the key meals that need the most attention right now during my week and make a choice about what I would like to eat.
3. Assess what I have already available in my kitchen or what bits need to be added to my shopping list.
4. Organize a shopping list from the menu planner and any other staples I need.
5. Allocate time to carry out the shopping.
6. Allocate time to prepare what I have chosen.
7. Place the menu planner before my weekly task list as a reminder that my food needs come first!
Why I chose to create my own product to use
This past year, I decided to create my own menu planners that include my personal drawings from my morning practice of drawing and coloring for 5 minutes or less as a way of connecting to my own creative energy for the day...the same energy that keeps me satiated in my food story as well. I can't predict what will transpire, but if I'm lucky one of the drawings will be usable on a quirky, kindergarten kind of level!
Tips for using a menu planner effectively
1. BE FLEXIBLE
Start by just filling in the meals that need the most attention, 1-3 to start.
2. BE REALISTIC
Accept that you may make a plan and it may not be carried out as you intended, use this to regroup and try again.
3. BE PATIENT
It takes time to integrate a new tool into your life in a way that feels organic and is part of your overall flow.
4. LET IT GO THEN COME BACK TO IT
If you get frustrated, frazzled or anything else that is not helpful, let it go then come back to it when you are able to be clear.
5. CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING
The way you frame something can make all the difference. Something supposedly simple can take on a healing or harmful quality if you are not present with yourself and your story.
Mistakes to avoid when using a menu planner
If you have a history of dieting please do not make this into a hyper vigilant tool that sends you into a guilt/shame cycle.
2. BLACK & WHITE THINKING
Success does not have anything to do with completing in full and carrying it out exactly as planned.
If you have a history of disassociating or avoidance from caring for your food needs choosing to not use this can perpetuate that cycle in a dis-empowering way.
My Intention for you
My intention for you is to use this menu planner as a grounding tool to bring more awareness to your food story. Increased awareness in your food story can translate into better awareness in other areas of your life as well. If you make an improvement in one part of your wellness system you will see a systemic improvement.
Are you excited and ready to try a menu planner?
You can get my menu planners for no charge right now. Click the image to link to them now if you are interested.
Also, if you'd like to use a weekly planner with the menu planner as shown above, please help yourself to my weekly planner in my free resource library.
Yours In Health,