What is meal planning? It is organizing yourself and family for 1+ meals. The idea is to plan, shop and prepare strategically. Meal planning is a hybrid version of going with the flow and full-blown meal prep. Not all items are cooked, some are pre-washed/prepared/cooked but the assembly of the complete meal is done at the time of service. Utilize these tips to make meal planning simple and make adjustments as you see fit!
1. Keep a list of 10 go-to meals that you and your family enjoy, you regularly have the ingredients available, and are not too time-consuming to make (goulash, tacos, baked chicken and veggies, etc). Click HERE for a free printable go-to meal sheet.
2. WRITE YOUR PLAN DOWN. Utilize your planner or use THIS super nifty meal planner magnetic book like we do! (not an ad, we just love it!) Without your meals written down, you’ll forget and a visual reference always helps to keep us on task!
3. Get your family/partner’s input! It’s hard to please everyones preferences AND you don’t need to! Alternate everyone’s favorite meals to keep a good balance. You aren’t a miracle worker! 😉
4. Save recipes and keep it simple! Use tried and trued recipes that you and your family enjoy while incorporating one new recipe every week or two! Try to avoid the recipes that involve 35 ingredients and 12 pots to cook.
**Pro tip: save recipes on Pinterest, in the Notes app on your phone, or in a notebook that resides in the kitchen to keep track of recipes
5. Check local grocery sales- Write out your meal plan after you’ve had a chance to look at the week’s upcoming sales. This will help you find fresh ingredients at the best prices and may spark some creative juices!
6. Check the weather! 90 degrees? A fresh salad or cool pasta salad sounds delish. 20 degrees? Bring on the soup, stew, and chilis!
7. Create theme nights (Monday = “Brinner” (breakfast for dinner) and Friday may be pasta/Italian night)
8. Plan for leftovers- Don’t create a new recipe and meal for every single day of the week. There will likely be leftovers from each meal or something may come up where a meal is not used due to a last-minute scheduling conflict, etc.
9. Prep your food after you shop at the beginning of the week! Pre-wash/pre-cut veggies, thaw any frozen meat for the next few days, etc. You can save your grain preparation (think pasta, potatoes, rice) for the day of as some people do not like eating leftovers of these items.
10. Keep trying! Start with planning your evening meal and when that feels manageable and successful add in your lunches (hello leftovers!) and/or breakfasts to really stay on track and be mindful with your nutrition!
Having some of the prep work completed and a game plan for the week ahead will help minimize the inevitable weekday chaos, ensure you eat a nutritious meal each night with your family, eliminate the “what’s for dinner?” question—since your weekly plan will be posted for your family to see, and reduce food costs and wandering aimlessly through the grocery store.
We are ALWAYS looking for new go-to meals. What is your favorite recipe?
-Be healthy, live well.