Everyone knows the feeling of being hungry while having absolutely no clue about what to make for dinner. You feel scattered, stressed and “hangry” all at the same time – what a drag. Instead, spend a half an hour meal planning for the week to shrink your food bill, feed your family healthier meals, save tons of time on prep and reduce meal time stress.
Plus, the more you do it, the more proficient you’ll become at scheduling recipes, shopping for ingredients, and later, reusing previous meal plans. Give meal organizing a try with these 5 easy steps and see what you think. Even if you only stick to it for part of the week, you’ll still see the benefits.
How to Do It
Step 1. Start with the right tools.
Browse recipe books like the More Time Moms Family Meals Cookbook or food websites and apps, and ask family members for suggestions. Think up theme nights such as Meatless Mondays or Taco Tuesdays and use a menu pad / grocery list to help you organize your week of meals. Check your fridge and pantry for the necessary items and then create a grocery list as soon as your menu is set.
Step 2. Consider the season and weather.
When planning, you’ll want to think about what foods are in season and what the temperatures are like. Cooler, fall weather typically calls for soups and stews with autumn squashes and root veggies, while warm weather is more suited to grilled meats and seafood and fresh salads. Eating in season keeps food costs down because seasonal produce is more plentiful and readily available.
Step 3. Make note of special occasions and activities.
If you have company coming or a hectic evening of activities on a particular week, plan accordingly. Make notes if more or less time is required for meal prep on a certain day. Write down the source of specific recipes for easy reference and this way family members can start in on meal preparations even if the official “chef” isn’t home yet.
Remember to get your spouse and kids helping wherever they can. Many hands make light work, so delegate specific tasks based on everyone’s preferences and abilities. Have a younger child grate cheese and wash lettuce for salad, while an older child heats up sauce and cooks the noodles for a pasta dish.
Step 5. Look for efficiency opportunities.
Cook extra meat one evening so leftovers from a roast beef or baked ham can be repurposed for lunch sandwiches or a casserole the next night. When you organize your meals in advance, you feed your children healthfully, save time and money, leave a small ecological footprint and lose weight too!
To help you get started, take the four-week MTM Family Meals Challenge which includes 4 dinner recipes, grocery lists and dinnertime tips and activities each week.
By Kristen Wint