You have to feed your entire family 3 times a day, every single day. And that doesn’t’ include snacks. No pressure.
Meal planning can be intimidating and overwhelming. But in today’s world, it is a necessity if you want to keep healthy eating on track for both you and your family. I learned early on in my role as mom that if I didn’t plan meals, then they would either stress me out, or not happen at all! There are those people who are gifted at looking inside their pantry and just pulling out a few items and whipping up dinner. And to those of you who do that, I am in awe. I have the first part of that down. I could gaze into my pantry for 20 minutes and turn around and look at my little ones, sitting at their little table, staring back at me expectantly to which I would simply say, “How about cereal?” I knew I needed to get on top of meal planning. So once my little ones were down for the night, I’d park it on the couch with a cup of hot tea and all my recipe books and a meal spreadsheet (don’t judge, I was an accountant). I actually enjoyed the time browsing the pictures and coming up with meals. I know that might not be everyone’s activity of choice once the kids are in bed. But once its done, you’re all set for the week, and mealtime can work like a well tuned machine. Here are some tips on how to make the most of your meal planning.
- Write it down. This step is super important. So you don’t forget. Write it on your cute Pinterest inspired dry erase frame, your spreadsheet, or your favorite notebook. Put it somewhere that is easy to glance at and as an added bonus, so your kids can see it and they don’t have to ask you 23 times whats for dinner. Unless they aren’t old enough to read. In that case you have to just answer the question.
- Make an all inclusive grocery list. As you sit down to plan your meals, make a list of all the ingredients needed for each meal. And take it from me, don’t just assume you have something, check the cabinet. You might have seen it 3 days ago but someone, like that other adult in your house, just might have used it up without your knowledge. (#iknowyouateallthenutelladearhusband)
- Look at your family’s schedule for the week as you plan. Try to plan quick easy meals on those nights you have soccer or piano practices, when you know your prep time will be short or even non-existent. Plan a meal that will have leftovers that you can change up and use for those busy evenings like a roast with veggies one day and then use the leftover roast for french dip sandwiches the next.
- Don’t overcomplicate dinner. While we would all love to have a meat, 2 vegetables and a fruit, it just doesn’t always work out that way. If breakfast for dinner is what your family likes, go with it. No shame in pancakes and bacon for dinner. Breakfast for dinner is on the menu at our house every week!
- Plan a night off from cooking. Every cook should have at least one night off. And it doesn’t mean you have to eat out, it can mean you pull out all the leftovers, set them on the counter and say have at it. Bonus! You just cleaned out the refrigerator.
- But what do I cook? Running low on ideas? Poll 6 friends for their family’s favorite dinner and you have an entire week of meals planned. Use your friends! They’re your best resource!
And as my gift to you, my meal spreadsheet, is available for download right here:: Weekly Menu Plan
Happy Meal Planning!