5 EASY STRATEGIES FOR BETTER MEAL PLANNING
Does dinner time stress you out? Are you always running around at the last minute looking for something to eat? Do you end up ordering pizza more often than you’d like to admit? If this sounds like you, we recommend meal planning.
Meal planning is an easy way to organize your family’s meals for the upcoming week. By knowing exactly what you’ll be eating each night, you take the guesswork out of dinner. And while meal planning may sound like an overwhelming process, it’s actually fairly straightforward.
We’ve compiled the below tips to help you get started. Follow these strategies and become a meal planning expert in no time!
1. SET ASIDE TIME TO PREPARE
Meal planning is one of those tasks that requires some intentional effort upfront, but saves you lots of time and energy down the road. To successfully meal plan, you need to devote some time each week to think about what recipes you’d like to prepare. It’s best to do this on Saturday or Sunday before the week begins. Use this opportunity to brainstorm about your menu and research any recipes that sound appealing.
Need help getting started? Consider your schedule for the upcoming week. Are there any nights where you’ll be busy and short on time? If so, schedule something quick and simple for that night’s dinner. Have a free evening? Plan a new recipe to tackle.
Another thing to factor into the equation is the weather. If it’s raining out, you don’t want to schedule a recipe that requires the grill. And if it’s a cold, bleary day, you could plan something warm and hearty like soup or chili.
Take some time every week to really think about what you want to cook. This is a crucial step in becoming a successful meal planner.
2. KEEP IT SIMPLE
Don’t let meal planning overwhelm you. You don’t need to prepare fancy, gourmet dinners every night- you just need to feed your family. Don’t feel obligated to try new recipes all week long, pick a few staples that your family enjoys and supplement from there.
Many people swear by “theme nights” like Taco Tuesday, Meatless Monday, or Pizza Friday. This is a fun, creative way to standardize your meal planning process and cuts back on some of the decision making.
When you’re planning your meals, don’t forget about leftovers! Make larger batches of your recipes and save some for an upcoming lunch or dinner.
3. SHOP SALES
Meal planning with sale items is a great way to fill up your menu and beef up your wallet. Check out coupons and specials at your grocery store. See if there is anything you can use for the upcoming week.
If you love saving money, consider purchasing a savings plan. You can get hundreds of dollars of coupons in the mail and discounts at restaurants with a Grocery Rewards Plan. Saving money couldn’t get any easier!
What’s even better than saving money? Not spending any in the first place! Check out your pantry and freezer during your meal planning brainstorm. Are there any items that you can use? Incorporating these items into your menu will save you time and money in the long run.
4. CREATE A CALENDAR AND START SHOPPING
Once you have your chosen menu, write it down so you can see it. This sounds simple, but it’s actually the key to success. Writing down your meals makes it official. This will prevent last-minute take-out deliveries when you feel too tired to cook
Another step to creating success? Go to the store. When your calendar is set, make a list of all the items you need to cook your selected recipes and then head to the store. Get all your shopping done ahead of time so you have no excuses. When you have the items already purchased, you’re much more likely to follow through on your menu plans.
5. PREP FOOD WHEN YOU GET BACK
Take some time to prep as much food as you can before the week begins. Make a big batch of rice, cut up and wash your produce, split things up into proper portions. Do the heavy lifting now so that it’ll be smooth sailing once the week begins.
Meal planning is one of the best things you can do to set yourself up for a relaxing, productive week. The above tips simplify the process and give you the tools you need to get started. Happy planning!