We all know the benefits of meal planning. It helps you save money on the grocery budget, avoid food waste, stay out of fast food joints and generally avoid dinnertime stress. Right? So why do we still procrastinate about doing it? Good question! I think it’s because meal planning is yet another item to check off the to do list. Here are a few tips to making meal planning a little easier.
Know Your Style
Every cook has her own style. Some of us need to follow recipes. Some of us hate them. Some of us want to know exactly what’s for dinner, lunch and breakfast 7 days a week, others like a little more flexibility. That’s ok. Your style of meal plan doesn’t have to look like mine.
Whether you’re super organized or more flexible and fly by the seat of your pants, meal planning can work for you. A more flexible cook could still benefit by making a looser plan. Instead of deciding on an actual recipe, she could have themed nights: Asian, Mexican, Fish, Pasta, Sandwich, etc.
Don’t Reinvent The Wheel
Sometimes we moms make things harder on ourselves than they need to be. What does your family enjoy? Sit them down and ask them what their favorite dishes are. Or think about meals that everyone enjoyed in the past. Write those down and see if you can come up with 25 or 30 meals that can be rotated through the month.
Keep your family’s schedule in mind as you plan. If Mondays are when everyone has extracurricular activities and you’re coming home late, that might be the night for a slow cooker meal you prep in the morning.
Use Evernote and Pinterest
If the idea of paging through your cookbooks trying to come up with good recipes for your meal plan sounds like a boring chore, then skip it. As you browse the web and come across good looking food, clip those pages to an Evernote account or your Pinterest boards.
Personally, I love Evernote because I can search it by ingredient and my account is synced across all my computers and phone. When something’s on sale at the store or I have an ingredient on hand I need to use up, I can easily find a recipe featuring that item, saving me money and avoiding waste. Most of us use only a few of the recipes in each cookbook we own. Why not scan those and get rid of the actual cookbook?
Use a Meal Planning Service
And finally, if you’re just too busy for meal planning or keep putting it off but know it would make your life easier, let someone else do the heavy lifting. Throw a little money at the problem and try one of the meal planners available online. There are several that come to mind: BuildAMenu, EMeals, MenuPlanningCentral, and PlanToEat.
They each have different features, so you’ll have to do a little initial investigating to find which one is right for you. However, once you are familiar with how the websites work, you’ll be printing off great recipes and meal plans in minutes a week.
Carrie is a homeschooling mom of 6 who finds that her day goes much more smoothly if she plans her family’s meals. Find healthy, whole foods recipes and meal planner reviews at her site http://www.NaturalMomsRecipes.com