Meal planning is the biggest saver in the kitchen. You can save money, time, and resources by meal planning. Money is saved by purchasing only what you need. Time is saved by not running to the grocery store everyday. Resources are saved because you know what you need for the week so food won’t be wasted.
The biggest benefit, and it doesn’t show up on a chart anywhere, is that things just run so much smoother. It’s the peace of mind that things are taken care of and you don’t have to scramble. If you have a plan, you’ll eat at home and you’ll eat healthier, too.
Meal Planning Made Simple
1. Plan ahead
Sunday evening is my meal planning day for the week. From the meal plan, I make my grocery list.
The first thing I do is grab our calendar and see what we have going on for the week. Evening meetings, sports practices, and social events get noted on the dinner menu.
Any evening meetings? That means I need to plan a quick dinner, have leftovers from the night before or serve a meal from the freezer.
Sports practice? Quick dinner, leftovers or something that can I can stop cooking and resume later. Mom’s taxi service requires me to turn off the stove from time to time.
2. Make a list and post it
We keep our meal plan front and center on the refrigerator. We all like to check it during the week. Also, if anything needs taking out of the freezer to thaw, I try to do this the night before. We don’t have a microwave oven so planning ahead is required.
My kids each cook a dinner each week. I ask them for ideas or what they’re tired of cooking and then I plan accordingly. Some families let their kids decide what to cook completely and we tried that but it’s just too much during the school year. I note their days to cook dinner on the menu or they sign up.
3. Keep it simple
Find a favorite meal. Once a week we have “Fish-Rice-Salad” which is fish, rice or quinoa, and salad or greens. Start to finish, it takes less than 25 minutes and everyone in the family can make it AND enjoys it.
Serve beans or lentils weekly. Get into the habit of soaking beans and cooking them, weekly. Lentils are even easier because they don’t need soaking. Beans are inexpensive, full of dietary fiber, and easy to freeze. They’re a good after school snack and can easily be made into hummus, too.
Here are some weekly meal plans from our house. You can download our “Dinner Menu” here and start your own Meal Planning Made Simple menu collection. You’ll need to cut the paper in half and I suggest printing on both sides. You’ll get 4 menus on each sheet of paper.
Sometimes I’m lazy and skip this routine but I’m always sorry, especially when someone asks “what’s for dinner” and I don’t have a plan! Meal planning really is a saver in the kitchen. Give it a try. Happy meal planning!
Do you meal plan? Are you consistent? What’s your method – paper and pen or high-tech method?
Go Gingham related links:
National Match-Up Day: A step-by-step on how to clean and organize your food storage containers!
Grocery shopping from the bulk bins and food storage containers
Reusing glass jars and how to get them ready for re-use
Frugal grocery shopping – without coupons!
Pantry basics for the home cook – what’s in my pantry
Refrigerator basics for the home cook – what’s in my refrigerator
New to cooking at home? Fear not!
How we keep food waste to a minimum
Confessions of a leftover food lover – that would be me!