Meal planning, do you do it? Though I know it isn’t something on most people’s to-do list, it needs to be. Have you ever noticed that at just about the same time every single day your family starts with their famous question, “What’s for dinner?” And since they ask it every single day, why not be prepared in advance for their question.
I get it, it’s a pain to sit down and make a two minute to-do list for the next day, let alone take 30 minutes to a hour to plan your meal for the whole next month. But, it is worth it.
Let’s go over what you are eliminating by making a meal plan.
- The age old question, “What’s for dinner?”
- Overspending on take-out
- Feelings of frustration
There are great things that happen when you already know what you are making for dinner before the actual meal. Let’s go over what you are gaining by making a meal plan:
- Confidence in knowing what’s for dinner.
- A budget that you are following more closely.
- The whole family can help plan.
- Meal planning doesn’t take long at all once you have staple meals set after a couple months.
I want to show you how to simply make a meal plan. A plan that works for you and your family for a month. Yes, I said a month. Does a month sound like a long time to make plans for dinner? Though a month isn’t necessary, I like planning our meals for the month to alleviate adding it to my weekly or even daily to-do list.
Ready to know what you will be cooking every night? I’m ready to show you how to make a meal plan. Before you begin, there are some things you will need, let’s go over them now.
- a pencil
- some paper
- recipe sources
- a meal planner
- your calendar
Let’s go more in-depth with a couple of these. First, recipe sources. Where do you get your recipes from? Cookbooks? Favorite bloggers? Friends? Pinterest? Where ever it is, be sure and have a good amount of recipes handy for planning your meals for the next month. Pinterest is good for being able to make a board for each week of the month and when you do it like this, it makes searching for recipes a lot easier.
My suggestion – once you find the recipes you have decided on for the month, keep your recipes together. Searching for a recipe later is not fun, trust me on this one. Whether you find your recipes on Pinterest, a cookbook, or even a favorite blog, remember to keep your recipes all together.
Another thing I mentioned that you need in order to create a meal plan is your calendar. You need your calendar for two reasons; first, to see what activities you have for the coming month. And the second, to write down what you plan on cooking.
The last thing to go into more depth about is my secret weapon. My secret weapon for meal planning is a meal planner. My meal planner has twelve months all together, I find this beneficial so I can use the prior months as a reference when I am stuck and not too sure what to make. It also has a perforated section to make your grocery list, that way while you are planning your meals for the month you will also be able to write down what you need for each meal. Then, you are ready to go shopping. My suggestion, before you leave to shop at the store, shop in your pantry first. You may be surprised how much you already have.
Now that we know what we need to meal plan, let’s go over why meal planning is so important. As with most things in life, the more prepared we are for things the smoother things tend to run. And with dinner, if we don’t plan for it we either spend money not in our budget for take-out or it is a dinner free-for-all once again.
Another great thing about meal planning happens to be freezer cooking. Once you decide which nights will be your busy nights for the month you will be able to decide what meals you can cook in advance to be better prepared. Freezer cooking is a great time saver and money saver. I think every family should freezer cook. Even if it isn’t every night, it can be on the nights you know are just too busy to be in the kitchen.
Tips to keep in mind while planning your meals:
Be sure to not plan 5 chicken meals all in one week. Your family will grow very tired of chicken. You can always theme each day of the week to make it easier to come up with ideas to cook. Here are some suggestions for themes:
- No Meat Monday
- Taco Tuesday
- Pasta Wednesday
- Chicken Thursday
- Fin For Yourself Friday (leftovers)
- Savory Saturday
- Crockpot Sunday
Meal Planning helps you no longer dread the age old question that you have heard the same time every day for as long as you can remember. Being one step ahead always makes your evening run more at ease. And, now that I have shared with you the items you need to have a successful meal planning session, in addition to why meal planning is important, and even my secret weapon, you are all set to meal plan for your family. I can’t wait to hear how it goes.
Don’t forget to check out The Ultimate Guide to Freezer Cooking eBook. It gives you step-by-step details on how to freeze meals so your evenings aren’t as rushed.