The following guest post is from Brooke of Slow Your Home:
You understand the benefits. You know it’s a good idea. You can see it helps save both money and energy.
- Thinking of endless new recipes?
- Keeping everyone’s preferences in mind?
- Finding good, seasonal produce?
- Remembering what you have on hand already?
- Shopping for specific ingredients?
Who has the energy?
Hang on… Without meal-planning, you have to do this each and every day.
Whereas a good meal plan will set you up for a week or more, meaning you only have to think about the dreaded question, “What’s for dinner?” once.
The trick? Think of meal planning like a good, hard work out – when you’re in the midst of it you curse the decision to ever start, but once you’ve finished and are benefiting from the results, you can see that the short-term pain was worth the long-term gain.
So before you begin planning next week’s menu, there’s two things you need to consider:
1. Decide how often you will write out your meal plan. Weekly? Fortnightly? Monthly? I have a friend who plans her family meals 10 weeks at a time. Just establish what works best for you.
2. How will you write the plan itself? I use the age-old method of pen and paper, but there are multiple apps, beautiful printables and online meal planners you can use to get you sorted.
For me, I take a piece of paper, write out the menu for the coming fortnight on the bottom half and the grocery list on the top half. It’s easiest to do it all at once, to ensure no ingredients are missed.
Now, the four meal-planning hacks you will love:
1. It’s perfectly fine to cook the same meal – frequently.
If you have a family favorite there is no problem in repeating it consistently. My kids love these salmon patties (bonus Mum Points for their incredible vegetable-hiding ninja-skills),and we have them once a week at least.
I haven’t had a complaint yet.
2. Have the same ‘type’ of food on particular days of the week.
Tuesday: slow cooker meal
Wednesday: left overs
This simply reduces the stress of what to choose for each day when writing your plan. Obviously, you can find a huge variety when it comes to each type of food, meaning you’re not locked in to the same seven meals every week.
3. Know your schedule.
You know your family’s work, play and school schedule better than anyone. Do yourself a kindness and use this knowledge to plan quick and simple meals for your busy days.
4. Try new things.
Set yourself a goal of trying one new recipe per plan. You’re certain to discover some new favorites, some not-so-favorites and to keep growing your repertoire over time.
All you have to lose is time spent at the store.
Meal planning really doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated. After all, the reason we do things like this is to make life simpler, not harder. We want to free up time for what is important: like drinking cocktails and chasing unicorns.
So share in the comments below – do you have any meal-planning tips, tricks or hacks? We’d love to hear them!
|Brooke McAlary is an aspiring minimalist, blissful gardener, passionate writer and inappropriate laugher. She is also a happy wife, busy mum, slightly weird Australian and creator of the insanely helpful Slow Home BootCamp. She blogs at Slow Your Home and is on a mission to help you find the simple life you want. You can find her hanging out on Facebook and Twitter multiple times a day.|