I’ve read so many articles telling me that I should be meal planning to make life easier. Often a program is recommended that will streamline the meal planning process and even create my grocery list. I’m not going to tell you that you should meal plan, because I‘m sure you‘ve heard that a million times. I’m not even going to tell you which program is the best help for meal planning, because I‘ve yet to find one I love. Instead, I want to tell you how to simplify meal planning. Use 1 or all 5 of these ways to make meal planning easier.
How To Simplify Meal Planning
- Keep It Simple
There is a time and a place for creative, gourmet meals and nights spent trying new recipes. However, during the season of young children, home schooling, pregnancies, and newborns you will want to simplify meal planning and keep meals simple and nourishing. Choose several of your family’s favorite meals and rotate them throughout the weeks and months. Don’t feel bad when your meal plan repeats itself every week rather than having 30 different meals each month!
- Choose a theme
One way to keep things interesting, is to come up with a theme for your meals. For example: Mexican, Asian, German, American, Italian, or simply pizza night, loaded baked potato night, soup night, grill night, salad night (green salad with meat, taco salad, pasta salad, etc.), bean/chili night, meatless night, etc. The themes are only as limited as your imagination (ask your children for ideas).
- Choose a meat
Sometimes simply choosing the meat for the night is enough to simplify meal planning for the week/month. Having meat in the freezer for the week or month, is a huge relief and you are not left wondering if you have a proper protein source. You can assign certain types of meat to each night, so that you easily know what to defrost beforehand. Then you can add whichever sides you want. If you are on a budget, it is helpful to buy meat in bulk. Ground beef and chicken are great options and can be very versatile.
- Be Flexible
Choose several meals and keep the ingredients on hand each week, but do not assign meals to each day. Write a list of meal ideas out and then simply choose from your list every morning and defrost the meat needed. In this way, you can have a master grocery list that you know will cover your meal plan each week or month, so that grocery shopping does not take much thought. This is a great way to “plan” without actually sticking to a specific plan. Perfect for those who like to be a little spontaneous.
- Be Prepared
There are going to be nights that you do not feel like cooking after a tiring day or when an event pops up leaving you with little time to prepare or cook supper. Being prepared will simplify meal planning even on those nights. Some ways to be prepared is by making up some freezer meals, having some store-bought quick foods on hand (not very healthy, but still cheaper than take-out), or by making breakfast for dinner. Scrambled eggs and toast on a Thursday night is simple, easy, quick, and still very healthy!
All said and done, what matters is that you realize that what works for my family or any other family may or may not work for your family. Read and take ideas from all of the online articles, but feel free to experiment and create a meal plan that is perfect for your family, schedule, and life. Stressing out because you are trying to follow someone else’s style of planning will not simplify meal planning for you! Your family is unique and that is normal!
In what ways do you simplify meal planning?