Menu Planning: love it or hate it?
Personally I LOVE menu planning. Probably because I love organizing and cooking so this allows me to fuse the two together. BUT also because I think it’s so crucial when trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle as well (along with a healthy budget.) I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve seen friends and family spending so much money at the grocery store every day or not knowing what they’re having for dinner and end up choosing fast food simply because it’s more convenient. (Don’t get me wrong, fast food definitely does have it’s place too!) But for the most part though, I prefer a good home-cooked meal made with simple ingredients that is nutritious and definitely delicious. So how do you get there? This whole home-cooked dinner thing every night?? Answer: PLAN YOUR MEALS AHEAD!
And here’s a few tips on how to do it:
1. Take time to plan out your week. I cannot stress this enough. I know that it’s so easy to get caught up with the hustle and bustle of life, but simply taking 10-15 minutes out of your day to write out the dinners you want for the week really can be quite the life saver.
2. Make a list of dinners to choose from. Sometimes the reason why you can’t decide on dinner is simply because you can’t think of anything to have. (Of course that could just be me because I’m the most indecisive person ever…) But that’s why my family has made a list, a very extensive list, of all the meals we regularly have and enjoy. This way when we’re deciding on dinners for the week we just have to go down the list and pick out the meals that we want. Easy right?
3. Make a list of sides. This goes along with the previous one and is pretty self explanatory. It’s always much easier to grocery shop once you know everything you’re planning to eat for the week. My recommendation is to have a list of sides too to help get those ideas flowing.
4. Create your grocery list for 1 week at a time. Once your dinners and sides are picked out then creating a grocery list is pretty easy. Just go through each meal, figure out all the ingredients you’ll need for it (including sides) and onto the list they goes. That way you make sure you have everything needed for the week and won’t be randomly surprised one night to find that the recipe actually calls for tomato sauce which you forgot to pick up and you’re already half way through cooking the meal and are now having to play “nose goes” to see who’s going to the store… (Sound familiar??) It also saves you from going to the store every day too.
5. Select a dinner for every day during the week. Also pretty self explanatory. Some people might not feel the need to do this and that’s totally ok! (For those people, I would still suggest having a list of weekly dinners but just leave it as a list. That way you can still look at it every night before or morning of and decide then what you want. ) But if you’re anything like me, already having a meal picked out for each day totally keeps the guessing out of it. And it doesn’t allow for any indecisiveness either which can drive me and my family absolutely crazy!
Here’s a quick example of what our dinner/sides list looks like and how we plan out our weeks. (Since I’m an over achiever, sometimes I try to plan out 2 weeks in advanced to make sure I’m extra prepared.)
I hope this helps you on your way to becoming a master menu planner! If you have any other helpful hints that you use too, please let me know! I always love hearing from you.