“What’s for dinner?”
Is that a common question in your house? Is this scenario familiar? You frantically run around the house, trying to find something that will satisfy. Do you ever just not have the energy or time to make something? What if you had a dinner sitting in the freezer or refrigerator, ready to be eaten? What if you spent just a few extra minutes one day, to plan a week of meals so those frantic moments don’t occur? This is what meal planning can do. With a little prep and a little thinking ahead, you can have a stress free mealtime.
Here are some tips to organize your meal planning!
1. Gather all of your cookbooks and recipes.
2. Find a quiet place to sit with a cup of coffee or tea in hand – make this time as enjoyable as you can.
3. Choose a timeframe for which you want to plan meals – start with 1 or 2 weeks if you are new to the process.
4. Create, print, draw a calendar to meal plan on. Divide it into days and within each day, divide into breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you want, leave room at the bottom where you can list snack ideas.
5. Cross out any meals/days you will not have to cook for that week. Be aware of your schedule. If you know you are going to be late or not have a lot of time for meal preparation, make sure to make that evening easy!
6. Think about leaving open spaces to eat leftovers.
7. Go through your cookbooks and choose recipes for the week. There are a few different ways to approach this, to keep variety:
- Choose a different type of meal for each night: mexican, italian, seafood, soup, sandwich, American (burgers), etc.
- Beef, chicken, fish, vegetable, etc.
- Oven, frozen, refrigerated, microwaved, etc.
8. Make a grocery list of all of the items you will need for that week. Prior to perusing your cookbooks, look through your cupboards to see what you have in stock. Don’t write down the ingredients you already have on your list.
10. Mark next to the recipe if there needs to be prep work done the day before (such as meat taken out of the freezer)
11. Hang the menu in a visible spot so that you know what meals are coming up, in case prep works need to be done.
- A fun idea for a menu is to find an old picture frame, print the days on a piece of scrapbook paper and insert into the picture frame, and use an overhead marker to write down each meal for the week. This is an attractive way to display your meal planning ideas!
12. Cross off each meal as you make it and keep a list of those family favorites!
13. Enjoy a stress free week because now you have all of your meals planned!
I personally need to become better at meal planning! I do not always do a meal plan every week, but when I do, I must say it really is a stress reliever! I find we eat a wider variety of foods when I plan out our meals. I find we have more leftovers, which is a bonus because it saves time and we both enjoy them. I am also more intentional about what I buy at the grocery store. I am buying food with the intention of putting it on the table – I don’t just buy food because it is on sale. It does take some extra time in planning the meals each week, but there are definite benefits. Living with less means finding the best way you can make the most of your time so that you have time to do the things you WANT to do in life.