I feel like I have been promising a meal planning post for a long time…thanks for being patient! This has been of my most requested topics so far this year. I am no expert in this area, just a mom who is determined to keep her sanity and avoid the annoying text “what are we doing for dinner?”
I have a post from a couple years ago here. It contains some good ideas and tips and was from when I very first started meal planning. A lot of it is still relevant, but I have changed some things. Will share my top 5 tips here!
1. Plan each week – this is key. I plan our meals for the week every Sunday. I have tried to do 2 weeks at a time, but schedules, cravings, opinions tend to change and I was rarely sticking to my second week. So plan one week at a time. I write the meal and sides out for each day. After writing our menu, I then check ingredient lists and create my grocery list.
2. Take into account your schedule – another key point. I work on Mondays and Thursdays, so these are usually crock pot or insta pot nights – read easy. I need something quick, that I can throw in a pot the night before and turn it on the next day. Tuesdays are our busy nights with kids activities, so I will make something that can be eaten early by one kid and later by another – read something that keeps warm on the stove/oven well (meatballs, pasta, soups). Sunday and Wednesdays we do not have anything, so I tend to make these my bigger “gourmet” meals. I try my new recipes on these nights as well as ones that take me more time and I enjoy making. I tend to leave Friday and Saturdays open for takeout or eating out. If we are home, I make something super easy So, take into account your schedule and how much time you have to prep as well as what type of meal will work.
3. Shop every week – I sometimes struggle with this. Now that I live really close to our grocery store and Costco, it has become easier for me to make my weekly run. I also take advantage or our grocery store’s delivery service. Having the fresh ingredients is not only key to cooking your recipes, it will also force you to use them up before they go bad. When we are going out of town, or the weather is too awful to venture out, I have been known to skip a week. This is a great way to clean out the pantry and freezer!
4. Change it up – Prior to meal planning, I felt like I was making the same 8 meals over and over. They were my easy, go-to meals. With planning in advance, I am able to explore different recipes and plan for them and have the needed ingredients on hand. I am a big cookbook person, especially the newer, beautiful picture ones. Elle has really started enjoying looking through them with me and picking ones that look delicious.
5. Start small – Not ready to jump fully in? Start small and set a goal of 2 nights per week to plan for a meal, buy the ingredients, and make the meal! Keep some soups, casseroles, or skillet meals in the freezer to pull out in a bind.
Benefits of meal planning!!
First, my sanity. There is nothing more annoying/stressful that the question “what is for dinner?” when I have nothing planned. Having my meals planned and the necessary groceries on hand makes everyone’s lives easier.
Second, I save money on groceries. When I plan my grocery lists and am buying for this week’s menus, I buy less impulse items or pantry items that will sit on my shelf.
Lastly, we eat so much healthier! We eat out less and I cook more with fresh ingredients. Don’t get me wrong, we still eat out each week – but certainly less than we did prior to meal planning!
Here are a couple weeks of examples that we have recently had:
Sun – Steak, asparagus, sweet potatoes
Mon – Pork roast, carrots, onions, potatoes in crock pot
Tues – Salmon, broccoli, rice
Wed – Beef & Mushroom Stroganoff
Thurs – Chicken tacos (chicken made in insta pot), black beans
Sun – Insta pot Indian butter chicken
Mon – Turkey, bacon, avocado panini
Tues – Spaghetti and meat sauce
Wed – Turkey stuffed peppers
Thurs – Chicken Breasts, butternut squash, spinach (all in insta pot)
If the meal plans are something you are interested in, I can start sharing our weekly meals and recipes!!
I hope this helps…please let me know if you have any questions!!