Easy Meal Planning Tips
"What’s for Dinner?" is a question that plagues so many of us from morning to night. In some cases, it even causes us not to sleep at night. Deciding what to make for dinner nags at us all day long, wearing us down.
Reading people’s suggestions that we need to make menus for two weeks or a month can be so overwhelming because many of us can’t even think what to have the next day.
Here are some tips to help you reduce the stress of deciding what’s for dinner:
- At first, only plan 1-2 days of menus. Yes, it does save time and money to plan a week or more ahead of time but if you can’t even get tomorrow’s meal planned then you need to start slowly, focusing on one menu and then working your way to planning farther ahead. At least get in the habit of planning tomorrow’s dinner today.
- Break it down. You only need 7 meals for 1 week. If you make extra food two nights planning for leftovers, that means you only need to plan five meals. If you go to a friend’s house or if you go out to eat once a week you are down to only having to plan 4 meals. You really aren’t making that many meals.
- Make the same meal every Monday night. Make your life easy and make a predictable schedule like, "every Friday we have chicken and every Saturday we have hot dogs." Believe it or not, if you make food that your family likes, most kids love the predictability of knowing what they will be eating each night. Do you remember having fond memories of always having roast on Sunday after church?
Plan a theme night for each day of the week. This will help jump start your ideas.
- Tuesdays are always Mexican food – tacos, burritos, enchiladas.
- Wednesdays are always Italian – Spaghetti, Lasagna, Pasta dishes
- Thursday you always serve Fish – fish sticks, fish in a packet, broiled fish.
- Have the older kids plan and cook 1-2 meals a week. It not only helps you but it helps them to learn how to plan and prepare meals for themselves.
- Ask each child and hubby to make a list of five of their favorite dishes. You could easily have five or more menus right there.
- Keep 10 basic menus. We are all creatures of habit and, in the same way we tend to wear the same 20% of our wardrobe over and over, we like eating the same meals. You can always throw in something new when you have the time or when you feel like it.
- Have a list of things the kids can start cooking if they get home before you.
As I have said a million times before, keep it simple. Our families don’t expect us to be gourmet chefs. Most families are tickled just to have a meal, even if is just hot dogs and mac and cheese.
Photo By: Sir Mildred Pierce