Meal planning is one of those things that I have on my weekly to do list yet somehow still struggle to do it each week. It’s been hit or miss since I’ve had kids. It’s one of the first things to be put aside when things get crazy. This year I made it a goal to be better about meal planning. It really doesn’t take a lot of time. For me it’s just a matter of doing smarter shopping and taking a few minutes each week to sit down and do it, no excuses.
The benefits of meal planning are worth the time it takes to do it. When it’s done right, you can save money, eat healthier and eliminate the dreaded question….WHAT’S FOR DINNER?!?
Here are some tips I’ve found helpful when it comes to meal planning.
Set a time to do it.
Sunday is my favorite day to meal plan. I usually do it after breakfast when the kids are playing around the house and we’re all just relaxing. My goal is to do it while hubs is home so I can run ideas by him and see what meals he’s like for the week. If I don’t get to it on Sunday, it becomes a must do on Monday.
Look at the week ahead.
See what is on your calendar for the week. If you have one night where you won’t be home, plan a meal that you can grab/make quickly before you go (sandwiches, ready made salad.) If there is a night where you won’t get home until late, utilize a crock pot. Hubs works from home one day each week, that night we always have steak and sweet potatoes because the grill is not my thing.
Make a list of go to meals.
This is something that makes meal planning quick and easy. I have a list of kid favorites, hubby favorites, under 30 minutes, few ingredients, etc. Each week I usually try one new meal and the rest are tried and true.
Use what you have first.
Go through your pantry and fridge before making your plan. See how much you can use for your weekly meals. There are even websites where you can type in ingredients and it will give you recipes to make. I like AllRecipes.com, where you can find an ingredient search.
Check your plan the night before.
One of the biggest reasons I’ve failed with meal planning is that I didn’t have the meat thawed or didn’t have a key ingredient. It’s become a habit to check the plan every night before bed to make sure the things I need for the next day are ready to go.
Write it down & display the plan.
The most important step with meal planning is writing it down and making a grocery list. Below, you’ll find an easy to use meal planning sheet with a spot for groceries. This is what I use while making my plan each week. Once the list is made, I take a picture of the groceries I need and head to the store. I also have a note in my phone with our family go to’s each week. Applesauce, milk, bananas, etc. The things we ALWAYS need.
Last week, I started working on a family command center. We have a wall in our kitchen that is hidden, which makes it the perfect spot. It’s far from finished, but it’s where our menu will be displayed each week.
Is meal planning something you do each week? Does your family have a list of tried and true meals?