10 Tips For Effortless Meal Planning
When that time of day comes, and there is no meal plan, people tend to eat out or get takeout more often. I’m pretty sure that you also know all about this. Since we eat only plant-based foods and live in a town where it’s hard to find plant-based restaurants, we depend even more on meals at home.
Having a 6-month-old baby girl makes it even more important to eat at home. My husband and I like to eat at home more than anywhere else. We love going out on dinner dates, but most of the time, we’d rather cook our food than go out. Also, there are many benefits to cooking at home, such as:
- Affordability: Making your meals is so much cheaper than dining out. Even going through the drive-thru can cost a lot.
- Healthier Options: When people cook at home, they tend and choose healthier options. You can control how much food you eat and what is in it at home.
- Food safety: Cooking at home doesn’t eliminate food-borne illnesses but greatly reduces the risk because you can control how your food is prepared and stored.
- Brings the family closer together: When going out to eat, a family can, of course, all sit together. But eating at home encourages family dinners and helps kids learn how to cook, which is a skill they can use for the rest of their lives.
- Control of Food Allergens/Sensitivities: Families can decide what goes into meals for people with food allergies or sensitivities when they eat at home.
Many people know the family should cook and eat together at home, but many find it hard. Patients often tell me they don’t have enough time to cook at home. Even though meal planning takes some time upfront, it’s not hard to do right and can help you lose weight, save money on groceries, feel less stressed, and save time in the long run.
10 Tips for Planning Meals Efficiently and Stress-Free!
Know where to look for recipes.
Where I find recipes is one of the most common things people ask me about recipes. The whole place! But I keep a few of my favorite cookbooks in the kitchen, where they are easy to get to. The ones I use less often are in the kitchen, but I have to stretch a bit to get to them.
If you put your cookbooks away, you’re less likely to use them or even know what recipes await you. I also read food blogs and pin recipes I want to try to board on Pinterest. I also keep a board for Keeper Recipes, which helps me remember which ones I liked enough to make again.
Keep track of what’s for dinner with a calendar, a board, or paper.
You think you’ll remember what you had planned for dinner one night, but you won’t. This list can be as straightforward as a post-it note, an adhesive note on your computer’s desk, a dry-erase board, or a blackboard dinner menu. We love how well this rustic wooden sign goes with our style. A board will help you remember what’s for dinner and tell your family so they can start cooking if you aren’t home yet.
Know your/your family’s plans for the week.
Let’s face it: you probably won’t eat every meal at home. Also, everyone has busy lives, so who is home for dinner will probably change. Even though the whole family needs to eat together, it probably doesn’t happen every night. Whether my husband and I are home for dinner or not affects what kind of meal we have.
If I’m cooking for myself, I’ll probably choose a recipe that takes less time. I’ll make the recipes that take longer when my husband returns to the house or on the weekend. I will write on the menu board if we are going out to chew or have dinner plans away from home.
Make a plan for your meals IN your kitchen.
Even though it sounds silly and easy, being in the kitchen when planning meals makes a big difference. I’ve planned meals from the couch and even a few times in the car on the way home from a trip, but you should use what you already have at home when you plan meals.
How many cans do you have of beans? Do you still have two or three onions? When you plan from the kitchen, you waste less food, don’t buy as much, and don’t have to shout to your partner, Oh, can you also verify how many potatoes we have left?
Make a list of what you need to buy as you plan.
This part is important. Set your recipes, a list of things you need to buy, and a board or calendar. When you locate a dish you want to prepare, add it to the night you would like to make it, verify what items you already have, and add any you don’t have right away to the list.
Plan for leftovers.
Leftovers are a key way to save money and time. Make sure you guess how many servings a meal will make. If there are two of you at residence and the recipe makes 4 servings, you can use the leftovers for either lunch or dinner the following day. You don’t have to cook every meal at home.
Use the freezer.
Let’s face it, many foods, especially soup, freeze very well. If you know you like a recipe and it freezes and reheats well, it makes twice as much of it. You might as well create another batch for a future supper if you’re already chopping, including using cooking times. We love to make two batches of Pasta Primavera and freeze one for later. Boil the whole wheat pasta and warm up the sauce, and you’re done!
If you can, prepare meals in advance.
Some meals may take longer to make, but some steps can be done a few days ahead. Putting together a soup that needs chopped vegetables? On Sunday, cut them up! Make the dough early in the week and put it in the fridge or freezer. How do you make granola that is easy but takes a long time in the oven? Make it ahead when you know you’ll be at home for a long time.
Keep it simple.
People sometimes think that meal planning means making long recipes. Planned meals can be as simple as Baked potatoes, frozen broccoli, and fruit on Monday. If you’d like to try a recipe that takes a lot of time, save it for a day when you’ll have plenty of time.
Make it your habit!
As I said before, planning meals can take some time ahead of time. But meal planning gets easier the more you do it. The same goes for other good habits. Picking a day of the week to plan meals and go grocery shopping and sticking to it will make the entire process easier and more like what you do.