Getting fresh and delicious meals on the table 5 nights a week for your family can seem daunting, but with these 6 easy menu planning tips you can take all the guess work out of your week night menus in just a few minutes of prep.
1. Set Goals
Most people begin meal planning for one of two reasons; Either they’re looking to save time by planning ahead, or they’re looking to save money by planning ahead. Of course there are a few that are looking to do both. Planning out meals in advance actually has many other benefits and makes it easier to achieve other goals too. Such as eating more organic, trying a new recipe once a week, eating healthier or even creating more time to spend with your family. For picky toddlers, a great way to encourage healthy eating is by getting kids in the kitchen to help with the prep and cooking.
2. Create a Recipe Box
In addition to new recipes you want to try, check pinterest for easy snacks, lunch box ideas and simple meals. This is also a great opportunity to find recipes the family can make together. Personally, we love making individual pizzas! We also have 6 fun recipes to get kids eating – and they’re all recipes kids can help create. Organize your recipe box with whatever method works for you – the average time to create the dish, style of cuisine or number of ingredients.
3. Don’t Skip The Favorites
When one of your motivations for meal planning is to incorporate new dishes, it can be easy to let tried and true favorites fall by the way side. However, there is no need to try something new every night. There is something to be said for an easy comfort dish that pleases everyone. Get the kids involved by letting them take turns choosing their favorite dish each week. When it’s their choice night, get them in the kitchen to help with meal prep. The look of pride on their faces when they present ‘their’ dish will make the little extra time it takes cooking worth it.
4. Keep Sides Simple
It’s easy to spend the time saved menu planning on creating more lavish meals. But on your recipe cards you should also include some easy side dishes. Baked potatoes and canned corn work well with a simple steak. Bonus, kids can easily handle opening cans and pouring the contents in bowls or pots for warming. They can also fork the potatoes and put them in the pot for cooking or wrap in aluminum foil for grilling.
5. Make a Grocery List
I’m going to say that one again – MAKE A GROCERY LIST. Whether your goal is to start eating healthier, trim your budget, buying more organics or shopping less, creating a list is going to be beneficial.
Organize your list by department (Dairy, Produce, Meat, Breads etc). You can also attach your coupons to the list and make a check next to the items you have coupons for so you can remember that you need to buy a certain brand or quantity.
6. Limit Your Shopping Trips
The more often we have to shop, the more time we waste during our week running back and forth. Plus, there are more opportunities to shop off our list or over budget. Pick a day that works for you – it can even be a different day each week – and try to get all of your shopping done on that day.
This conversation is sponsored by Horizon Organic. The opinions and text are all mine.