Meal Planning Made Simple
One of the simplest, most effective things you can do to run a smooth and organized home is to take a few minutes each week to meal plan. There is nothing worse than working a full day and then coming home to, “What’s for dinner?” and have no idea.
There are a lot of suggestions and tactics that I have found on meal planning, but I am going to take a very simple approach, because let’s face it, if it’s not easy we won’t do it.
Let’s go step by step through the meal planning process and by the end you’ll be set with a week’s worth of meals, a shopping list to stock it and a happy family!
Start by creating a long list of the meals you and your family enjoy. Put as many ideas on paper as possible. Save this on the computer if possible. This will be the list you go to weekly when planning.
Once you have a long list of choices, pick out 5 – 7 meals for the week. Think of variety and any additional factors for each evening. Do you have company for dinner? Do the kid’s have activities that need to be planned around? Busy day? Have a variety of meals on your list for this reason – quick one pan meals, crock-pot meals, gourmet spreads, kid’s favorites etc. a little bit for every situation.
Once you have a list of 5 – 7 meals, depending on the number of nights you cook, you need to create a shopping list. Again, if this is something you can create on the computer it will be easy for you to modify it week to week, while keeping the staples on it so you don’t have to rewrite them every time. Click Here for a shopping list template.
Set a time each week for shopping. Every Sunday is ideal. It sets you up for the week and given it’s usually a day off, you’re not pressured by time or the dreaded “what’s for dinner”.
Last, but not least post the weekly meal plan somewhere everyone can see it. On the fridge, somewhere in the kitchen, on the cork board. Anywhere that will prevent your family from asking, “what’s for dinner?”
Here are a few tips to make this process even smoother:
Get the family involved – get their suggestions, help with shopping and even cooking.
Rotate from week to week. In my house we have 7 – 8 dishes that we really love. I rotate those through a two-week cycle. I have even created two shopping lists for each week so I don’t have to rewrite them.
Use simple recipes for most of the week. Feel free to go gourmet once or twice, but don’t burn yourself out too early in the week.
Take one day off a week. This gives you some breathing room from the kitchen. Taking a night off can mean having your spouse or kids cook. Or treat yourself to a fun night out!
Meal planning is important and once you have a system in place it becomes so simple and intuitive that you won’t believe the difference it will make.