You guys I am so excited about this: I have two great guest posts coming your way. I know that meal planning is a crucial part of making eating healthy a reality. I also know that what works for one person might not work for you. I wanted to give you some other people’s perspectives. I hope this gives you inspiration!-Sophie
Meal Planing 101 by KYlie
Start with Your Family’s Calendar
The first inclination for most people when sitting down to meal plan is to set up something to cook every night of the week. While this is the goal, this kind of “plan” can actually just set you up to throw away a lot of groceries. Before you plan your meals, talk to your spouse and children to create a clear picture of the week. This will help you plan for any events that might interrupt your cooking or meal time. On these nights, plan for leftovers, meals that can be prepared with little or no prep time, or a quick trip eating out. For example, my husband and I have a church life group we attend every Thursday. We plan for leftovers that night for dinner. Sometimes, if we have plenty left in our restaurant budget, we enjoy a quick trip to Chick-Fil-A!
Take Stock of Your Freezer and Pantry
Be sure to take a look at what you already have before you plan out your weekly meals. Did you stock up on pasta during a sale last week? Sounds like you need spaghetti one night! Do you have a 6lb pound bag of frozen chicken in the freezer that you bought from Sam’s Club? Check out a fun new recipe, like Cleaned Up Chicken and Broccoli Casserole! Using the ingredients you have on hand will prevent food waste, create room in your pantry/freezer, and cut down your grocery bill.
Plan Your Meals
Now comes the fun part – plan your meals! We keep a running list of anything and everything we like on a spreadsheet. Each week, I create a new column on the spreadsheet and fill in what we’ll cook that week. Some families have themed nights (Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, etc) to help easily choose their meals. Find the method that works for you, and write it down! Use the computer, a meal planning printable, a cute chalkboard in your kitchen, or even a pad of paper on your refrigerator. Just have your plan where your family can access it to cut down on the ever repetitive “Mom, what’s for dinner?”
Grocery Shop with Plenty of Time to Prep
Now that you have your plan, create your grocery list! Make sure you have everything you need for each meal in order to cut down on midweek grocery trips. Basic meal prep (as we’ll see in the next step) is important, so be sure to shop early enough that you’ll have time to get everything ready. We actually choose to order our groceries online and pick them up most weeks. Online ordering to pick up on Saturdays frees up precious weekend time, helps us stick to your budget, and gives us plenty of time to prep on Sunday.
Prep Ingredients to Set Yourself Up for Success
Make time on Sunday to prep your dinners so you have minimal prep time on the weeknights. Some simple steps? Brown up any ground meat, season and bake chicken breasts, wash vegetables and store them to prevent spoiling, and cook enough rice to cover what you need for the week. If we’re planning a casserole or dish that requires more than 30 minutes of cook time, I will make it start to finish on Sunday so that it only requires reheating before dinner. Be realistic about your weeknight expectations, and plan accordingly!
My name is Kylie, and I live in Chesapeake, VA. After a lifetime of health issues that peaked in early adulthood, I’ve embraced a more natural lifestyle. I try to enjoy a gluten free life by eating plenty of delicious food, and I’m learning to phase out chemicals and additives in my beauty and cleaning routines. I hope you will enjoy following my journey, and chime in with your ideas and experiences!