Do you struggle to come up with meal planning ideas for your family every week? With these nine tips, you can simplify your meal planning struggles.
If one of your resolutions this year is to do a better job of meal planning, you’ve come to the right place.
I will admit, meal planning is not one of my favorite things to do. I rank it right up there with laundry and cleaning the house. It’s just something that has to get done.
But a few months ago, a friend asked me, “What do you cook for dinner every night? Meal planning stresses me out!”
I’ve overheard other busy mamas make the same comment. You’re in a rut. You feel like you make the same thing every week. You need new ideas. Or just … ideas period!
After being responsible for feeding other people for over a decade, I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on meal planning. That’s why I’m sharing some of my top strategies for devising a meal plan every week.
Create a List of Your Family’s Favorites Recipes
You gotta start somewhere, so why not start with what you already know? This can be as simple as sitting down with a notebook and jotting down every single recipe you make frequently that your family enjoys. Ask your family to help you brainstorm.
Once this is done, take the time to organize each recipe by category. You don’t have to go overboard. It can be as simple as dividing each recipe into chicken, beef, pork, etc. Trust me, taking the time to do this from the start really saves time later on.
Next, compile all your recipes into one central location. I’m old school … I keep a big three-ring binder on my kitchen counter where I store printed copies of all my go-to recipes in plastic sleeves. However, if you prefer to work from a tablet, the Paprika Recipe Manager App is a great tool. It allows you to pull recipes from anywhere on the web and syncs with your tablet and phone.
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Pick a Day
In your house, do you have certain day designated to doing laundry? Going grocery shopping, etc? Designate a day that’s convenient for you to sit down and plan meals for the next week. I do most of my shopping at Kroger. They release their sales ad for the week every Wednesday. Because I like to plan meals around what’s on sale, I typically create my meal plans and grocery list on Wednesday.
Keep Your Calendar Handy
Are there certain days of the week that are more hectic than others? Big Brother has after school activities on Tuesday and Wednesday. Because we usually don’t get home until after five o’clock, I know I need to either plan to serve leftovers on that day, or something that can be prepared quickly without a lot of fuss, like a slow cooker meal. Planning easy meals on days where there isn’t a lot of time ensures you are less likely to stop at the drive through on the way home.
Pick a Theme
Yes, I know “Taco Tuesday” sounds lame, but when you’re struggling to come up with seven meals every week, it can relieve some of the stress. My family LOVES breakfast for dinner, so every Thursday night is Breakfast for Dinner night. I serve pancakes, waffles, French toast, or biscuits and gravy.
One of the advantages of planning ahead is that it allows you to prep ahead. If I’m baking a meatloaf in the oven on Monday and I know I’ll need diced cooked chicken breasts on Thursday, kill two birds with one stone! Same thing for veggies. Chopping onions on Tuesday? Avoid extra tears later in the week (literally) by chopping some extra and storing them for later in the week.
Keep Ready-Made Meal Items on Hand
My freezer is full of frozen vegetables that I can heat in the microwave and serve as a quick side. Big Brother LOVES when I serve these buttered egg noodles. And let’s face it … sometimes you plan on cooking one night, but life happens and it’s just not in the cards. That’s why I like to keep a few ready-made soup mixes on hand.
Take a Break
Even YOU deserve a break. It’s a rule in my house that I take Friday night off. The boys eat a frozen pizza and The Husband and I either get take out or HE cooks something.
Still Feel Like You’re Stuck in a Rut?
Get help! Ask your friends for their favorite meal ideas or sign up for my FREE weekly meal plans. Each Thursday I will email YOU my exact meal plan for the following complete with grocery list. You can learn more about my FREE weekly meal plans or sign up below!