I have a love-hate relationship with meal planning. No, scratch that, maybe I don’t hate meal planning. It’s gotten easier. But here’s the thing, I completely and utterly loathe not having a dinner plan in place come 5pm on any given day. So, because of that, I meal plan. Every week. Without fail.
Here are some of my strategies I use to make it simpler.
This is crucial. Without scheduling in some time to meal plan, the week goes by and crud, no meal plan for next week and then I’m going to the store without a plan. No bueno. Each week this may happen at a different time depending on what is going on in the house. But, that doesn’t give me an excuse to not schedule it in. I take out my calendar and figure out a time that works each week and make it happen.
Cook once, use it twice. Or Three times.
Come the end of the week, I really don’t want to be cooking from scratch every. Single. Thing. Know what I mean? Early in the week I try to make something that offers plenty of leftovers. That for us is either a roast chicken on Sunday that turns into a casserole or soup later in the week, or a big pot of chili that just lasts for days.
Plan for No Kitchen Days.
We all have days where we’re just not home during a time when you would cook a meal or have no desire to be. I have days where I pick up one and then get to turn around and take the other someplace else. I bet you have days like that too. These are days I definitely pull out the crockpot so I know food is ready whenever the kids come bursting through the door.
Have Simple Family Favorites on Repeat.
Taco Tuesday (I mean who doesn’t like Taco Tuesday?)
Ccoconut curry dishes
Sausages with sautéed cabbage
Go to the library and check out a new cookbook. Test out the recipes, see if you like them, get inspired to cook new things, it is a win-win and all for free. I do this often. Some people like pinterest or google searches. These drive me nuts. I prefer a real cookbook with beautiful photos. Figure out what inspires you and do that.
Keep it Simple.
Simple is key. Sometimes that just means browning ground beef and throwing it in the crockpot with onions, peppers, salsa and beans for taco meat whenever the kids get home. Soup is also super easy to throw together, as are skillet meals. Find meals that work for you in a snap and use them, often.
Let the Kids Choose a Meal a Week.
Do not be a short-order cook. Let me repeat. Do not be a short-order cook. I get that some kids are picky, mine certainly try that tactic from time to time. I have one kid who loves tomatoes and one who hates them. I have one who loves sweet potatoes and the other hates them. One likes mushrooms, the other doesn’t. You get the idea.
My tactic is, sometimes you get a meal with your favorites and sometimes you don’t. To help the kids feel a part of it, let them pick a meal a week so they always know they get one where they have some control and it gives them a meal to look forward to. I also keep the meal list for the week on the counter with the recipes, so if they really want to know what’s coming, they can figure it out.
Zero Time? Use Real Plans.
You don’t care how much I wrap meal planning up in a pretty bow you don’t want to do it. You are in a space where you can’t even add this to your to do list. You want the meal plan handed to you with a perfectly organized grocery list. You want to be able to eliminate ingredients easily and have someone else figure out what you can make that way. I get it. Easy. Go to Real Plans Meal Plans and check out what they have to offer. It’s my go to for those tricky weeks, and for clients with tricky sensitivities.
Now you tell me, what is your favorite strategy to help you with meal planning? Share in the comments below!
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