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A Beginner’s Guide to Meal Planning
When you first start meal planning for your family, it can seem overwhelming. If you research it, you’ll find there are endless ways to create a meal, different time frames to work, and several ways to use a meal plan calendar. Where do you begin? Here are some basic tips to get you started:
Start by listing out all the meals that you already eat on a regular basis. Your family’s favorite meals, your go-to easy meals that you make at the end of a long day, and even meals you make for special occasions. This way you have a starting point for meals that you know your family will eat.
Group your meals into categories to make it easier to make sure you’re not repeating yourself to often. Here are a few that may help:
Breakfast for Dinner
Next, choose a format you like to create your meal plans. A calendar page works fine, or maybe you prefer a dry erase board or a cork board. Whatever works best for you is the method you should choose. Be sure to add breakfast, lunch and dinner categories for each day of the week.
Create a place to keep track of your favorite recipes. A binder with plastic sheet protectors works well for paper recipes. Or, if you’re a Pinterest fan, you can create boards for all your favorite meal categories. This is your resource for filling your meal plan calendar.
Also, have a place that family members can write down special meal requests they may have so you can include them when possible.
Now, compare it to your family calendar and cross off the mealtimes that you don’t need to prepare anything. For instance, if your family always orders take out on Friday nights, you don’t need to plan dinner then.
Now you are ready to fill in your weekly meal plan and get started. As you do this week after week, you’ll find ways to improve based on what works for you. The first couple of months will be mostly trial and error to fine tune the process so that it is beneficial to you and your family.
After you have a system that works for you, meal planning will only take a few minutes each week and will save you lots of time and money trying to figure out what’s for dinner.