Have you ever struggled putting food on the table every single night? Are you always complaining because you don’t get a decent meal at home? Is eating out becoming more expensive?
Making meals for a family does takes up time if you start with zero. This is the very reason why most people choose to eat out – to avoid all the work in the kitchen.
When your meals are planned, it is easier to prepare and make them without pressure!
Benefits of Meal Planning
Saves you time.
Meal planning is a game changer in our family. As a mom who spends 10 hours a day at work, I always use this as an excuse in making preparing good for for my kids. I just don’t have enough time to do it? Yet, you will find time if you really make time for it.
Planning ahead allows me to prepare our meals earlier so I won’t be rushing most of the time. It also allowed me to cook meals in bulk so I can freeze them for future use when our schedule is tight and I couldn’t seem to make dinner right on time.
One of my favorite tool when it comes to meal planning is my crock pot. It saves me tons of time and I get to come home with a dinner ready to serve without putting much effort.
Saves you money.
When I discovered that our favorite restaurant foods can be made at home, stopped ordering take out dinner. I started including one to two recipes that we love in our weekly plan.
Take out dinners are expensive especially if you do it often but if you’re stretching your budget meal planning saves you tons of money. Having a stock of your favorites like frozen pizza, chicken nuggets and fries at home is also an alternative of eating out.
I started meal planning because I want to feed my family with healthier food. My family loves to eat savory food that are quick and easy to make. And they will choose easy grabs for convenience.
Creating a meal plan allows us to eat better by incorporating better food choices. Taking the time to make it ahead of time prevents us from eating junk.
It makes you creative and resourceful.
When you have picky eaters at home you need to be creative so you can serve them with healthy and nutritious food. I have learned in the past that I can sneak in vegetables ( that my kids don’t like) in our meal without affecting the taste.That’s exactly the very reason why I love meal planning. I love to make things work and use up all the ingredients that we have on hand.
Keeps you sane.
The hustle and bustle of a working mom every single day is very real. You try to beat the after office hours to get home and prepare a meal for your family and add the guessing game of what- to -eat- for- supper is a major source of stress for me. Having meals planned out for the week has made my life easier and better.
How To Get Started
Tip #1 Plan Ahead
Pick a day during the week where you can sit and plan uninterrupted. Take time to think and research for recipes that you wanted to be included in your menu for the week. Use a pen and paper of better yet download a free template to make your work easier. Decide how many meals are you planning to prepare. It may include breakfast, lunch or dinner. You might want to take your schedule in to consideration. Look at your work schedule and your kids activities. Sometimes this is the reason why we’re force to eat out. We’re simply unprepared.
Tip #2 Take An Inventory
Taking a look at what you have in your fridge, freezer and pantry gives you an idea of what you already have in hand to avoid overbuying. This is another way of saving money in your groceries. Taking an inventory also allows you to make a meal of what you already have in stock. Print your recipes so you can put a check mark on the items that you don’t need to purchase.
Tip #3 Make A Grocery List
Now that you have finished your inventory, it’s time write down what are the things that you need. Shopping with a list saves you time and money. It helps you avoid the areas in the store where you don’t have to go.
Tip #4 Start Meal Preparation
Free one day of your schedule during the week to start meal preparation. Normally, I would tackle this job every Sunday afternoon when husband and the kids are not around so I can have the whole kitchen by myself.
For meat and poultry: I cut or slice them according to the recipe that I have for the week then freeze them. Note: If you buy bulk better divide them before you freeze them and put a label on a zip lock bag or plastic reusable containers before freezing them.
For vegetables:I wash and cut them and store them in a container with paper towels to absorb moisture and make your produce last longer.
For fruits: I wash and dry them, cut and store them in a container so that my kids would easily pick and include in their lunch kit.
Tip #5 Cook In Big Batches
To save more time and energy, I cook meals in big batches like chili and spaghetti meat sauce. Divide, label and freeze them for future use.
When it comes to meal planning bear this in mind :
Simplicity – keep your meals simple and easy to make. A recipe that you choose must have at least five ingredients which can be prepared in about half an hour.
Flexibility – the more flexible your meal is the more you are going to stick to meal planning. People give up easily on meal planning because they slip away when unexpected things show up. Like a friend coming over without further notice or you stayed late at work. All those things will happen but you need to learn from it.
Creativity – don’t be scared to explore and be willing to widen your horizon when it comes to planning your meals. There’s a lot of resources out there that can help you from recipes to ways of cooking them.