How many times have you heard those words, mom what’s for dinner? Too many to count if you are like me. I was talking to my Mom just the other day about meal planning. She was making out a menu for the coming week. I made a mental note that this would be a good topic to write about. Thanks for the inspiration Mom!
Planning meals does take a little bit of time once a week. I don’t do this every single week, sometimes I get out of my routine and I just make a mental note and think it up as I go through the store. That never works as well as writing it down and planning. If you saw my pantry, freezer and refrigerator you would think I was preparing for a famine. In all fairness, I do shop at the warehouse stores and since things are sold in bulk, it fills the pantry quickly! I will share what my pantry looks like…
My mom keeps a very full pantry and her mom did the same thing. I learned from the best! I use to think that I keep a lot of food on hand because I had lived in the midwest and in the winter you always want to have food in stock in case of a storm. Well that theory really does not hold any more since I have lived in California for 20 years now and the weather is never so bad that I can’t go to the grocery store. The good thing about it is, I can pull a together a balanced nutritional meal on short notice with the food I have in stock. It might contain frozen vegetables instead of fresh but it keeps us from eating fast food.
1. For meal planning I scan the freezer, pantry and refrigerator and see what I have on hand that needs to be used up. I look at the calendar and see what activities the week holds and who will be here for which meals. Hubby Tom travels and our children live at home and commute to college but they eat most of their evening meals at home. I don’t want to cook someones favorite meal the night they are not going to be home, so I try to plan accordingly. Classes are over for the summer so I will have everyone here for dinner most nights. Meal planning is going to be necessary.
2. I will plan five dinner entrees and plan on leftovers for two nights. If you have followed my blog you know that I like to double recipes and we enjoy leftovers! If I need a little recipe inspiration I will pull out some cookbooks, cooking magazines or look at my blog posts.
3. Once I have chosen the meals I look at the recipes to see what ingredients I need, what is on hand and what I need to purchase. Make out the grocery list and I am ready to go.
4. I also keep certain items on hand for my Quick & Easy meals. If time will not allow for making what I have planned I can still get something good on the table quickly. It is good to have a “plan B.” You can use the categories on the side bar to find my quick & easy ideas as well as Crock Pot recipes that are great for busy days. Most of the recipes that I have posted on the blog are pretty easy and don’t take that long to prepare.
*I made a list of Quick & Easy entrees and printed it out as well as keeping it in my computer so that everyone in the house has access to it.
*I have another list of our favorite meals and what side dishes I put with the entrees. I don’t want to reinvent the wheel every time I plan meals.
*When her children were young, a friend of mine made out index cards with meal ideas on each one, including the side dishes. She had her kids help her meal plan by letting them choose a card. I love that idea!
Advantages to meal planning
*Spend less money because you go to the store fewer times and you buy just what you need for what you are cooking.
*Less food waste since you are purchasing the ingredients you need for the recipes you have chosen.
*You eat healthier meals and it keeps you from resorting to fast food at the last minute.
*It is easier to plan your breakfast and lunch when you know what you are having for evening meal. You can ensure that your food intake is nutritionally balanced for the day. If dinner is a higher calorie meal you can cut back accordingly and allow for it. That is what thin people do!
*Variety is so important so you don’t get bored with your meals and when you know you have something you look forward to eating, it is easier to stay with your healthy eating plan.
*Planning reduces meal time stress. Who doesn’t want to reduce the stress in their life?
My Meal Plan For the Next Few Days
*Chicken Enchiladas, rice, refried beans
*Chicken Fried Rice, egg drop soup, frozen spring rolls
Do you meal plan and if so what is your method?
Planning for success and less stress.