I will be honest - I really do not like meal planning. When it comes time to decide what to cook for dinner, I wish someone would just tell me what to make each night and have my fridge stocked with ingredients. But, we do not live in a magical world, and I have come to find that weekly or monthly meal planning can be really beneficial. Planning meals ahead of time makes grocery shopping easier and requires less thinking and struggling to come up with a meal idea during the week.
For a while, I did my meal planning by the month. I loved how it worked and I was able to see the whole month of meals at one time so we didn't end up eating the same things every week. But I quickly realized that I was changing meals frequently due to leftovers in the fridge that needed to be eaten first or unexpected plans that came up and changed our schedule. This still may work best for you and your family, but I decided to swtich back to weekly meal planning and it has been great. I have been using the new weekly meal planning notepad available in the shop to plan my meals and grocery list all in once place and I could not be happier with the way it has made my meal planning easier. I am able to plan the meals for the week, make my grocery list based on what we are having that week and take it with me to do the shopping.
To help you make your meal planning a little easier, I put together a short list of things that I find help me with my meal planning. I hope it will help you organize and simplify this process for your family too.
Make a list of favorite meals
This is one of the most helpful things that I found makes it easier. Put together a list of your family's favorite go-to meals and you will always have a list to choose from when you can't think of what to make.
Stock the pantry
If your pantry is always stocked with those staples that you find you use most often, you can usually whip up a meal in a pinch and not have to worry that you have the ingredients ready for cooking.
Every Sunday I sit down, plan the meals for the week, make my grocery list based on that list, and then do the shopping. That way I am ready for the week ahead and I don't have to spend time during the busy week thinking about what to cook or stopping by the grocery store for extra ingredients.
No matter how much you plan ahead, things will change. Be flexible with your plan so that you can switch things around or cook a different meal if you need to one night. (That is also why it is good to have the pantry stocked!)
Plan for leftovers
We typically have leftovers from at least one meal every week, so I take advantage of that. I give myself one night off from cooking to eat the leftovers and its a win-win. I don't have to cook, and no food is wasted!. If you and your family are not big fans of leftovers, try transforming it into something new. I do this all the time too by making a new meal out of leftovers!