Imagine this: It’s almost 6:00. Your husband has just got home from work. Kids are home from school. You’ve had one of those days. Everyone is starving. And then you hear it, “Mom, what’s for dinner?” And you realize that you have no idea. With everything that has happened that day, you haven’t given dinner a thought. In fact when you look in the pantry and fridge you notice that you’re about out of everything. What do you do? You throw a frozen lasagna in the oven and call it a night, or send the hubby for take out, or even worse pull out the cereal boxes and let everyone fend for themselves. Or . . . you look at the weekly menu you planned the prior week and let your family know that tonight’s menu will be: Chicken with a Rosemary Balsamic Glaze, Roasted Potatoes, Roasted Brussel Sprouts, and Homemade Biscuits, and it should be ready in about 30 minutes.
Which scenario do you like better? Which do you think is healthier for your family? Which do you think is more work?
The last scenario is definitely better, and believe it or not, it doesn’t have to be more work. In fact when you make, and stick to, a weekly or monthly meal plan, life gets easier! It also saves money. No more wondering what’s for dinner. No more stressing out trying to throw something together at the last minute. You’ve planned ahead, set aside a day to do all your grocery shopping and maybe even a little bit of freezer cooking and meal prepping, and then you go on with your busy week.
Here’s how to get started:
1) Inventory- Before you sit down to make your meal plan and shopping list it’s important to see what you already have on hand. This is especially important if you are trying to pinch pennies and save your family money. Write down meats, veggies, and dry goods that you have on hand. Then see how many full meals you can make with whats on hand or by buying just one or two more ingredients. This begins your meal planning.
2) Grocery Ads, Sales, & Coupons- Now if you are really trying to save money the next step to meal planning would be to check the coupons that you would like to use along with Grocery Store ads. Base your meals off of produce and meat that you can get at a reduced price. If money is no issue obviously you can skip this step.
3)Plan out a week or if you are feeling really productive a month’s worth of meals. Make your list, and get your shopping done!
A few more time saving tips to keep in mind:
*If prep time is always an issue for dinner then set aside an hour or two after your grocery shopping trip to wash and chop veggies. Divide them into baggies or containers. This will make throwing together salads and side dishes super easy!
*Get meat marinating in zip lock baggies.You can even go ahead and cook some of your meat. Throw chicken on the grill, then you’ll have it to chop for salads, enchiladas, and sandwiches. Brown ground turkey or beef. Season it and store it in the fridge or even the freezer for quick tacos, spaghetti, or anything else you can dream up. Shape hamburger patties and place them in freezer bags lined with wax paper.
*Post your meal plan in a convenient location (like on the fridge) or in your Household Manager along with recipes and lists of ingredients that you might need.
*Make extra! As you are cleaning up divide left overs into individual containers for each person to have as a lunch during the week!