I don’t always love menu planning, but I know how important it is to making our week run smoothly. Knowing what we’re going to eat during the week helps in so many ways. It helps me save money at the grocery store, because I only need to buy the items we’ll need for our meals. It helps me save time, because if I need to dice onions or peppers for two different meals during the week I can do it all at once. And, it helps me feel organized. When things at home are a little nutty, not worrying about what I’m going to make for dinner can help keep me sane.
Meal planning is not difficult, and it doesn’t take a lot of time. My main problem with menu planning, and the reason that it took me a long time to embrace it, is because on paper our meals look so boring. I’d love to have a meal plan that shows salmon, steak, quiches and pork chops. But I have to cook things that we are going to eat. Foods that we all like. And, quite frankly, meals that are not overly expensive.
If you’re struggling when it comes to meal planning, I suggest getting out a pen and paper and brainstorming – write down some meals your family likes to eat, you like to cook, and that don’t take a lot of time to put together. Then put each meal into a category, such as pasta, chicken, or breakfast.
After you’ve made your list, decide how you’d like to plan out your meals. In my family, we typically eat meals according to themes. For the most part, we have breakfast foods on Mondays, tacos on Tuesday, pasta on Wednesday, slow-cooker Thursday, Left-overs on Friday, a big family meal on Saturday and then pizza on Sunday. It’s not fancy, but it works for our us.
Every Sunday I take five minutes and write down our meals on a slip of paper. I stick this paper to the fridge, so I can quickly glance at it to see if I need to defrost chicken, mix up a batch of artisan bread, or run to the grocery store for an item I don’t have on hand.
The best part of having a themed part of meal planning is that it gives us a bit of stability – and The Goose really appreciates that. He likes knowing that we have tacos on Tuesday, pizza on Sunday, and pasta on Wednesday. And I like knowing that I don’t need to feel stressed about something as simple as cooking dinner.