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Everything You Need to Know About Meal Planning
Meal planning not only saves you time and money, but also helps you to set yourself up for success and stay on track with healthy eating habits. No more last minute pizza delivery because you don’t know what you’re having for dinner.
There are no rules, you can’t mess it up, and once you have a plan laid out, it shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes each week to put it together. After a little practice, you’ll find a rhythm to your meal planning and it will become easy.
To get you started, let’s break down some of the basics.
First – Evaluate Your Family’s Eating Situation
Eating schedules can vary greatly from week to week. Work schedules, after school activities, evening commitments, your family can be going in different directions every night. Here are some things to consider when putting together your meal plan:
- How many meals you need to plan for during the week. Think about what you have going on next week and take a quick look at everyone’s plans. This will give you a rough idea of how many meals you need to plan for the week.
- What do you have time for. If your schedule is crazy in the upcoming week, be on the lookout for meals you can prepare quickly or in your slow cooker.
- Your budget. Be sure to check out the weekly sales and plan your meals around sale items.
Second – Plan Out Your Weekly Meals.
- Grab pen and paper and write the days of the week on the left side of the page. If you prefer, you can use a digital calendar or a dry-erase board in your kitchen.
- Think about all the meals you need to plan for the week and write those down under each day. For instance, if you only need to plan for packed lunch and family dinner on Tuesday, write lunch and dinner under Tuesday.
- Tally them up. How many meals will you need altogether? Can any of those meals be leftovers from a previous meal? Tally up how many of each meal you need, for instance: 2 dinners and 3 lunches.
Third – Collect Your Recipes and Get Them On the Calendar
Now that you know how many meals you’ll need, it’s time to find some recipes and fill in your calendar for the week.
When you’re first getting started, work on creating a master recipe list. Some easy go-to meals that your family loves and you can prepare them quickly and inexpensively. Having this list is one of the easiest ways to speed up your meal planning process. You can always find one or two new recipes to throw in the rotation and experiment with from time to time.
Review cooking magazines, your favorite cookbooks, Pinterest and online recipe resources to find some easy meals to fill your rotation.
For paper recipes, get a three-ring binder and some plastic page protectors to organize your recipes. If there are cookbooks you really enjoy, use colored tabs to flag your favorite recipes.
Save yourself some time and write your grocery list as you fill out your meal plan. Then, before you head to the store, take a quick inventory of what you have on hand and cross off the ingredients you don’t need to purchase.
You’re now ready to quickly and easily prepare your meals for the week without stressing and without having to resort to take-out.
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