Minimize your kitchen time and Maximize your family time
The main goal of planning out your meals is to spend the time up front so you have less stress and more enjoyment later.
Often, however, this is easier said than done. So, I wanted to share my tips with you for how to make your weeknights better by using meal planning.
Free Meal Plans:
My 7 Helpful Meal Planning Tips:
- Think left-overs. There is absolutely no shame is eating the same meal twice. In fact, we often plan to have at least 1 or 2 of our dinners last an additional day — either to have for lunch or for another dinner later in the week — and we buy our groceries accordingly.
- Include all types of proteins. Instead of eating chicken or salads EVERY night, try to incorporate a variety into your weekly meals so you don’t get bored. This also allows you to get vital nutrients from all sorts of vegetables and proteins. For example, use chicken, beef, beans, tofu, fish, etc. instead of just one.
- Balance out your meals. Really think about what your whole meal will be. If you’re planning on having chicken for dinner, do you also have a plan for a vegetable and a starch/carb? Consider what sides will compliment your protein. Preparing well-balanced, nutritious meals will help to make you feel more satisfied after your meal. Plus, it’s a great way to add variety. For example, one week, you can add mashed sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts to your pork chops and, the next week, you can add roasted asparagus and brown rice instead. Reusing the same core recipes in different ways makes a huge difference to your thinking and your palate.
- Choose quick recipes you’re comfortable making. Make sure the recipes you’re following will take 45 minutes or less in order to get dinner out there quick for your hungry family. Also, make sure you’re comfortable with the recipe beforehand to avoid any last minute frantic questions or surprises. Set yourself up for success, not failure!
- Rotate in new meals. Always try out new recipes in order to have additional proteins and sides to rotate into your meal plan. We find it best to test out recipes on the weekends when we have more time to play around in the kitchen and life isn’t as stressed. Then, if the recipe passes our taste and time test, we add it to the list for future meal plans.
- Get excited about your meals. Yes, meal planning can be a chore BUT it doesn’t have to be. Try to think about meals that sound fantastic to you so you can’t wait to make them next week while you’re planning out your menu. Looking for some inspiration? What do you find yourself ordering out? What have you been craving? What can you make without a whole lot of effort?
- Create a real menu for everyone to see. Make a note on your fridge, send out an email to your family or just write it on a paper in the kitchen. Whatever way works best, make sure everyone in your family is aware of what’s for dinner each night. This will get everyone excited for what to expect. Plus, it’ll help you to remember to defrost any necessary items the day before to avoid adding unnecessary time. Most importantly, it will hold you accountable for actually making the dinner.