Meal Planning 101

I love to meal plan…when I have the time!

But really it is a HUGE time saver and if you are constantly thinking about the next meal, like me…well it saves your brain from thinking too much.

And truth be told…sometimes at 5pm I am scrambling around the kitchen wondering what to cook for dinner. Panic Mom!! And with too young kids and a hungry husband…and myself who needs to eat something healthy – well you get the point, meal planning is the best way to win at this game!

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One of the biggest advantages of meal planning, that I love is you end up saving money. Yep, that random trip to the grocery for those few things you need, usually turns into more than you think and your cart is filled with other random ingredients you don’t necessary need. Trying to shop 1-2 times per week with a set list/plan for the week, keeps the costs down!

One question I get asked often is: “Do you meal plan every meal for the whole week, like breakfast, lunch and dinner?” No, I don’t. That doesn’t work for our family. What works? Well, I always have eggs and bacon on hand for breakfast (along with yogurt, fresh fruit and smoothie ingredients for my kids) and for lunch, I always have salad ingredients in our house along with sandwich fixings. I believe in always having healthy options in your pantry and refrigerator – this will set you up for success. If you have junky foods or sugary snacks…well you are more apt to dig into those instead.

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If you are new to Meal Planning, I think some of these tips will help you! I hope they do!

Here are 10 tips to use for Meal Planning

  1. Be flexible. If something comes up and you need to go out to dinner 🙂 don’t fret. Make good choices at the restaurant.
  2. Stretch the protein. I would say about 50% of the time, we have extra meat…and freezing it works so well.
  3. Use seasonal ingredients. This will help keeps costs down. Plus you are eating in season, which is always the freshest way to do it.
  4. Buy in bulk…if you can. Buying high quality meats when they are sale – everything keeps great in the freezer.
  5. Create a plan that will help you reach your own personal healthy eating goals…and whomever else you are cooking for.
  6. Plan meals that can use the same protein, but in different ways. Like buying beef stew meat and making stew one night and using the leftovers for shredded beef lettuce wraps.
  7. Do your research. Cruise through your favorite cookbooks. I always check out a few new cookbooks from the library and take pictures with my phone that we might like.
  8. Keep a list and save it. I love making lists 🙂 I have a small notebook where I keep recipe ideas. I look at that list and think of the ingredients we already have that I can use with them and then go from there.
  9. Don’t get overwhelmed. Start out with a few meals a week, then once you have a good routine of preparing, add more meals to your plan.
  10. Include your family members in your planning. I recently gave a new cookbook to my husband to look at. I asked him to let me know what looked good to him. And there you have the beginning of a new list!

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**Photo from Mulberrypressco

Happy planning!

 

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