Menu planning is something that many homemakers intend to do, but never actually get around to. While it may seem like a daunting task, it really only requires a small time investment. In return, you can avoid last-minute meal panic and make smarter diet choices. Putting healthy dinners on the table will not only help you save money, but help you lose weight as well. If you find yourself struggling to create weekly meal plans, these tips will simplify the process and make weeknight dinners stress-free.
Being ambitious is usually a good thing. When it comes to meal planning, however, it is best to take baby steps. Start out by planning three or four meals for the week. Be realistic about the amount of time you will have to prepare meals. Planning seven meals but only cooking four will lead to wasted food and money down the drain.
Set Aside Time for Planning
Set aside some time each week to plan your meals. This may be on the weekends, or you may find that after work is the best time. Regardless of what day you choose, you need to make sure that you will be free from distractions during this time. Making meal planning a part of your regular schedule will ensure that it gets done each week without any excuses.
Incorporate Theme Nights
When meal ideas are in short supply, theme nights can save the day. Try incorporating a theme night for one dinner each week. Maybe you want to try meatless Mondays or taco Tuesdays. The great thing about themes is that they give you direction. If you make “breakfast for dinner” your theme, you can create five simple variations to use in the future. When it comes time to plan meals the next week, you will already be ahead of the game and have one meal planned out.
Make Leftovers a Part of the Plan
Plan to make a double batch of one or two meals and add leftover nights into the mix. This will allow you to enjoy a night off from cooking, but still ensure that your family is eating a healthy home cooked meal.
Add a Simple Meal to the Menu
If your schedule includes a busy night filled with after school activities and late work nights, you can plan ahead by incorporating simple meals into your menu. Meal replacement shakes and drinks can ensure that you get all of the nutrients you need without having to slave over a hot stove. Making a simple salad ahead of time is also a great healthy meal option.
Meal planning does not have to be a chore. By setting aside time each week to make your plan and keeping things as simple as possible, you can get dinner on the table on time and without stress.