I have been horrible at meal planning in the past, so I have come up with a simple meal planning tips that work for me.
I am a planner. I put lots of time into planning weekend trips or simply what I need to bring for an activity out of the house. I plan how to save money on event tickets, parking, and meals out. When our activities are frugally planned, I feel like we can experience more family activities.
But when it comes to meal planning, I tend to struggle. If you struggle too, I’ve got a few tips for you.
I don’t do a lot of advanced planning, but having a few systems in place makes it easier to plan homemade family meals most nights.
5 Simple Meal Planning Tips
1.) Have a regular shopping list.
I keep a list of the regular ingredients we use in our home. Then I use that list to determine what I need to shop for each week so we always have those items on hand.
This list includes lots of frozen vegetables, baby carrots, fresh fruit, and unsweetened apple sauce for quick healthy side dishes so I am not scrambling to make something to add to a meal.
2.) Keep a collection of recipes.
Pick a designated spot to keep a collection of recipes you like to prepare. You could use a Pinterest board, or cook books with sticky tabs, or print recipes to put in a recipe binder.
I personally use a binder with clear sheet protectors to keep my family’s favorite recipes. That way a slow internet connection or website being down doesn’t keep me from finding a recipe I want for dinner.
It is also important to collect recipes that use ingredients you normally have on hand. If you are finding a lot of recipes with specialty ingredients, consider adding those ingredients to your regular shopping list.
3.) Add dinners to a weekly planner.
I use a weekly printable calendar to keep track of my daily and weekly to-do lists. This planner also has space to record each day’s dinner. This system makes it possible to schedule a week’s worth of dinners in advance, but you can also just plan each dinner the night or morning before.
Having a meal plan section on my calendar forces be to think about dinner before it gets to be too late to prepare a good meal. Most times I will plan that night’s meal in the morning each day. I would like to plan the whole week in advance, but that doesn’t always for me. Here are the family recipe binder planner pages I use.
Even if you don’t have a planner with a dedicated meal planning section, you could just use a notebook to keep track of meals you have had recently and use that information to plan ahead as best you can.
4.) Get your family involved.
Ask your family what meals they enjoy. I often get in a rut with the same recipes on a regular rotation. When I ask my family for their ideas, I usually get new recipes to add to our collection to have more variety in our meal planning.
5.) Be open to changes.
Update your regular grocery list as needed to make sure you have ingredients on hand to make a variety of recipes. Before you go shopping, think about any new recipes you want to try that use ingredients you don’t normally buy.
What are your tips to make it easier to have dinner ready every night?