Meal Planning For Beginners
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One of the easiest things you can do to be successful with dietary changes is meal planning. Not only is it a tremendous asset to eating right, but it also helps in so many other areas of your life. Your family budget, the stress of whats for dinner, making your evening routine run smoother, etc.
The thought of meal planning can be a bit overwhelming, not know how to do it effectively or where to start. But, that’s the beauty of it. There is no right or wrong way to meal plan. You just have to start, there really is no way to mess it up.
Meal Planning Basics and Tips
Have the tools you need. Are you a paper and pen person? Do you prefer technology for your lists? Dry erase board, maybe? What ever it is that works for you, but have something designated for meals, so they don’t get lost in the stack.
Start by determining how many meals you need to plan for. Your schedule might vary week to week. Late work night, kids after school activities, your husbands birthday meal, evening commitments, and the list can go on and on.
What you have time for. Do you have a busy week ahead? Keep an eye out for slow cooker meals, quick and easy meals, or freezer meals.
Your mood. The change in the weather, cravings, how you are feeling, can all change what you find appetizing. Keep that in mind when choosing meals.
Gather recipes. Make a list of all your tried and true, family favorites. Ask the kiddos and husband for their input. Don’t forget to through in some new ones. Search Pinterest, use google, and you can always check out my arsenal of recipes here. Make a master list—don’t forget to note where the actual recipe is so you can find it—and keep it handy to refer to each week.
Choose your recipes for the week. Jot down your meals for each day, keeping the above steps in mind. Also, try to avoid selecting meals that don’t go together. Choose recipes that you can reuse ingredients and save yourself some money and possibly time.
Example- I cook and shred chicken for quesadillas, and later I use the chicken in my salads for lunch, or chicken alfredo for dinner.
Make out your grocery list. And hit the store. Voila! You have just meal planned.
Now, just because you said you are having tacos for Taco Tuesday doesn’t mean you have to stick to it. Remember, you bought groceries for a week’s worth of meals. You aren’t breaking any rules if you decide to swap Thursday’s spaghetti with taco Tuesday.
Here are a few more tips to be successful.
Choose themes for days of the week. Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, etc.
Don’t be a short order cook. Cook one meal for everyone. For my picky kids, I try to have ONE thing that I know they will eat, but I don’t make them a separate meal.
Check your pantry and fridge to see what ingredients you have on hand already.
Put your list where it is visible. Everyone sees it and then maybe the “What’s for dinner?” question won’t be asked.
When you get home from grocery shopping, prep some or all of your food for the week. We’ll talk more about this in my next blog.
After a couple of weeks meal planning, it becomes more natural. Don’t give up. Make changes where you need to–to fit your families schedule–but you will notice a difference in how it makes meals easier. Good Luck!