By the time you get home from work or picking the kids up from school and practice, you’re exhausted. You probably have no energy to prepare a meal. Hello take-out!
Is this how your typical weeknight looks? I’m right there with you. It can be difficult to manage and find balance when trying to eat healthy. But, there is a tool to help: Menu planning.
I’ve found menu planning the key to success when it comes to healthy eating. Even with a fully stocked kitchen, it is hard to muster up the creativity to get dinner on the table without a game plan. So put an end to the frantic digging in the fridge at 6:30 p.m. trying to find something for dinner. Take a few simple steps to make the job of nourishing the family less complicated and more enjoyable!
- Take a look at your schedule for the week. Identify the pinch points. Which nights do the kids have practice, or do you have meetings after work? When did you plan that dinner date with friends?
- Determine how many nights you’ll have dinner at home during the week. Do you bring lunch to work or pack one for the kids? Add those meals to the list to plan for leftovers.
- What is your cooking strategy? Do you like to cook once and eat twice? For example, reduce the cooking load by using leftovers from Monday night’s roasted chicken in Wednesday’s Chicken and Orzo Supper.
- Make sure you’re well stocked on breakfast staples like cereal, milk, yogurt and fruit. What’s for lunch? Frozen meals? Sandwiches? Leftovers? Don’t forget to plan for those meals, too.
- Coupon clipper or BOGO finder? For the budget friendly, plan your meals around what is on sale that week and intentionally cook with seasonal ingredients.
- Gather recipes and get planning. Ask your family if they have any preferences or favorites. Are there any recipes you have been dying to try? Schedule them in, but keep it simple by mixing in your classic standbys, too.
- After your meals are planned, extract your shopping list from the ingredients needed. This is the greatest thing about menu planning--creating your shopping list is a breeze!
- To keep from reinventing the wheel each week create a generic shopping list of the items you usually buy--eggs, milk, cereal, yogurt, etc and add the specific ingredients for the recipes that week.
Do you plan your meals like I do, or do you just like to wing it? Have any nuggets for successful menu planning you’d like to share?