You may have read or heard about how great meal planning is. You always know what’s for dinner. You can save tons of money by only getting what you need. Food doesn’t go to waste. Do you ever feel that planning meals is complicated though? Sifting through recipes, taking inventory of what you have in stock already, comparing that to what you need plus making a list of other food items can be time-consuming. In today’s post from the Super Simple Series we’re talking Simple Meal Planning.
Why does meal planning have to be so complicated?
Simple Meal Planning
You may have heard how great meal planning is. It can help you know what to make for dinner ahead of time instead of having to come up with something on the fly. I don’t know why but trying to come up with a dinner idea on the day of is as enjoyable as cleaning toilets. Planning out supper also saves you from reaching for the phone to order pizza and it helps you stick to a grocery list, which saves you money at the store.
Essentially I do like to meal plan and to save time I like to follow Mashup Mom’s free meal plans. I gave a rave review about it in this previous post. Before this great resource I actually dreaded planning out meals because it felt like it took forever to organize everything. Some mornings I didn’t have time to sit and write out a list and look up ideas. The task was about as daunting as laundry, never ending!
Since I’ve been better about figuring out what’s for dinner ahead of time I’ve learned a few tips to pass on to you to make meal planning simple:
Simple Meal Planning Tips
- Keep an inventory of favorite family recipes either in a recipe box or pin recipes to a board labeled “Family Favorite Recipes.” I like to pick one of these for once a week.
- Have theme nights for meals. Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, Pasta Thursdays. These are all great starting points to figure out what to make.
- Include a leftover night–with all of the meals you make there’s bound to be a need to clean out the fridge.
- Look at your schedule to know how many meals or what types of meals to plan. Let’s say one week you are going to a friends house for dinner on Sunday night, and have a birthday party to go to on Friday night. Don’t plan meals for those days. Got swim lessons and soccer practice every Tuesday night? Think of crock-pot meals or quick dinners for those nights.
- Ask your family for ideas. Give them each a night to pick something.
- Keep a stash of frozen pizza, mac and cheese, or canned soup for nights when plans may change but need to get something on the table fast.
- When creating a shopping list scan your pantry for staples you already have and only list the ingredients you need.
- To keep track of things out need store a notepad in the cupboard and write down things as they run out. That way you just need to grab that and go on grocery shopping day.
Simple Meal Planning Resources
Here are some of my favorite resources I use for recipes and meal planning. These are all frugal, easy, tasty and family-friendly.
Meal Planning Isn’t For Everyone
If meal planning isn’t for you that is okay! Let’s face it, planning meals ahead of time isn’t for everyone. I try to as much as possible, but there are times when I don’t like to do it. Or I don’t have time. Planning out meals and creating a shopping list takes time. I don’t always have time. Still, I have to answer the question, “mom, what’s for dinner” every day. If you are in this boat try the following:
Simple Tips For Making Dinner
- Keep plenty of meat, fruit, veggies and pantry staples on hand so you can easily look at your inventory and come up with a meal idea.
- Refer to your list of family favorite recipes and rotate those. I’m guessing if your family loves Mexican food you have plenty of taco seasoning and refried beans on hand to whip up something.
- Keep a stash of frozen pizza, mac and cheese or canned soup for nights when plans may change but need to get something on the table fast.
- Look for inspiration on Pinterest or from one of the websites above. Pick a recipe that has ingredients that you already have.
I hope some of these tips help you streamline things so that it is a simple meal planning process. For more super simple tips check out this related post on simple kitchen routines! Be sure to check back on the next installment of the super simple series where we will cover simple kitchen spaces. Follow my facebook page to stay up to date on the most up to date posts (click on the facebook icon at the top of the main page.)
Happy simplifying and cooking!