All families are busy. To me, there is nothing more stressful than coming home from work or spending the day with the kids and trying to plan for dinner. I am convinced that toddlers seize that time of indecision and use it to wear down parents for fruit snacks. Maybe it’s just mine! All you can do is hope that you have all the ingredients for what popped up in your head and hope everyone will try a bite. After all, the easiest thing to do is order out, right?
About four years ago we began meal planning. Every Sunday morning we browse the grocery store and see if anything on sale could be useful in a recipe this week. Some weeks we get really creative and try new recipes, other ones we just mange! We are big fans of saving money, so we rarely eat out for lunch. Our meal planner lets us plan for when we will eat leftovers (hint its 2 days after we have it for dinner) during lunch. To avoid leftover burn out, we always eat Sunday’s dinner for Tuesday’s lunch, etc… It all gets packed up after dinner Sunday, and anything remaining is labeled and tossed in the freezer for a meal later.
Please do not think that I’m advocating for cooking 7 days a week! Each week our meal planner usually has one dinner left blank. It’s a Friday night thing for us to go out. Another night OR two may have an item pulled out from the freezer. But before I go to bed the night, I can take a quick look at our planner on the fridge. If it’s a leftover in the freezer, I pull out the item and place it in the fridge to defrost it.
Seems pretty simple, right? It really is! We love having a strategy for the week and it takes out the anxiety of each evening. An added bonus for is that we never buy more than we need at the grocery store. Before meal planning, we would go shopping, find great looking ingredients and come home exhausted and order delivery because it was too exhausting to cook! Ha. The fresh produce always went to waste because we didn’t have a planned use for them. Hey, we still aren’t perfect. We waste a lot of pineapples and cantaloupes because sometimes we just CANNOT find the energy & time to cut, portion, and clean it up.
If you are thinking you may want to give meal planning a try, download the printable! It has the meals for the week on the top and a place to write your shopping list at the bottom. Write out your meals for the week and as you are writing them, start filling in your shopping list. At the end, you’ll have everything on the shopping list for a week’s worth of lunches & dinners. We usually add a snack & breakfast items at the end. Those items are usually whatever is on promotion at the grocery store. It always changes. 🙂 Take the shopping list part with you to the store and you’re all set.
Do you have any other advice for meal planning? Is it useful for your family?