By: Karla Wheaton
When my five-year-old son sat down to dinner one night and asked me this question I knew it was time to make a change.
I started researching meal planning. At first it seemed like a lot more work, but we’ve found that the benefits really do outweigh the effort. It has helped our family eat healthier, eased my stress, and saved time and money.
Four Easy Steps To Meal Planning
Decide to really make an effort to stick with meal planning. Commit yourself to keeping it up.
Sit down and make a list of ten dinners you normally make. List the ingredients you need to make each one. Make copies to use as shopping lists.
Don’t forget to add meal staples to your list such as bread, pasta, rice, tomatoes, garlic, onions, eggs, chicken breasts, and milk.
Check to see what you already have in your fridge, your freezer, and your cabinets before you go to the store. Cross off any items that you find off of your list.
Tips For Success
Have your children help you plan which meals you will eat that week. They will be more likely to want to eat them and you will have less waste.
Make sure you choose quick and easy recipes that use shortcuts rather than ones that make every step from scratch.
Is your partner scheduled to work overtime or does your son have soccer practice? If you know you have a lot going on one night, plan for something quick.
Also plan simpler meals for during the week and save your favorite but a little more complicated recipes for the weekends.
When you can, use coupons and check newspaper ads for sales. Choose meals around weekly deals.
While planning, you do not have to specify which meal is for which day. You can always choose five meals and then pick whichever one you are in the mood for that evening.
Use the “cook once, eat twice strategy”. For example, a meat from a rotisserie chicken can be used for chicken salad sandwiches one night and for soft tacos the next.
Try to make the grocery shopping process as painless as possible. Shop on a day and at a time when the store isn’t too busy.
If you really want to make shopping easier, take your shopping list and organize it by the items’ locations in your grocery store.
Always cook perishables such as fresh fish and salad greens first. It would defeat the purpose to have to throw out items such as fresh produce out at the end of the week because you didn’t use them.
Try to stick with meal planning, but don’t be too hard on yourself. If it is not possible one week, try to get back on board the next. With time you will build up a collection of recipes your family really enjoys and all of this effort will make your life easier.