“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” Colossians 3:23
By: Gretchen Speer
Whether you are a mom of one or seventeen, you have probably already come to the realization that organization is your friend. Even if you are not naturally gifted in this area, just puting a few things into practice can help you out big time. Today I’m going to start a series on meal planning. If you are already breaking out into a sweat at the thought of it, let me promise you, you will be able to do this. It will save you time, money and much stress and frustration. If you are like me and still trying to shed some baby weight, this will be of much help in planning healthy meals.
Before you start gather these things:
- Updated Calendar- You need to have all your appointments, practices…everything on this calendar. What you have going on that day will determine what kind of meal you will have the time and energy to fix.
- Meals List- This is a list of all the meals that you have made in the past that you want to continue to have. I took my list a step further and separated it into categories on a spread sheet. (ex: favorites, healthy, kids faves, crock pot…). If you wanted to take it another step further you could have your husband pick his top five meals. My husband really enjoyed picking his!
- A Calender or computer for you to create your menu on- If you don’t like to be on the computer a lot I suggest having a calendar dedicated to the meal planning. You could hang it in the kitchen for a quick reference. I like making a spread sheet most of the time, because it keeps everything neat and organized. Excel even has specific templates already made for menu planning. For the last few weeks, I have just printed the blank templates out and hand written my menus on them.
Top 10 Tips for Menu Planning Success:
1) Check your calender as you are planning. Think about what you have planned for that day. I like to do crock pot meals after church and toasted sub sandwiches on busy days.
2) Consider having theme nights if you are struggling with menu ideas. I really like theme nights. Make Monday your mexican nights and pick from tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas and chicken tortilla soup. Tuesdays could be Italian night, you get the picture. Meatless Monday is also a popular theme right now.
3) Consider the weather. Who doesn’t love chili on a cold day? If it’s going to be raining, I know my husband won’t want to grill, and if it’s in the 100’s, I don’t use my oven.
4) Make a Note. If you are going to have guests make sure that you make a note on your menu. This will be helpful with your grocery list. Also, I have a few meals that I always double the recipe and freeze half. If I don’t make a note on my menu, I always forget to buy extra meat-so frustrating!
5) Consider planning breakfasts and lunches too. This is another suggestion that is important for your grocery list. Planning a play date, wanting to do a big breakfast on Saturday morning? Write it down!
6) List everything you plan on making. I have found that if I don’t list side dishes on my menu, I don’t think about what we are having until we are about to sit down to eat. When am meal planning, I try to put everything I plan to make for each meal. (example: Meatloaf, Sweet Potato Fries, Peas)
7) Keep it in the kitchen. Whether you use a calendar, a spreadsheet or a post it note, make sure to put your menu in the kitchen. I like to put mine on the refrigerator, because it is in my direct line of vision several times a day.
8 ) Check it. First thing in the morning, check the menu to see if what meat you need to thaw out. I try to do some of the prep work through out the day, because dinner time at our house is pretty chaotic.
9) Cut down on the work. If you have 5 meals that require a pound of ground beef, then cook it all at once and freeze the rest for later. Make two meatloaves and freeze one for the next time you put it on your list. Chop onions and peppers for the next few days. (Put them in a tupperware container with a damp papertowell over them).
10) Stick to it! Don’t let all your hard work or your groceries go to waste! If something does come up and you don’t end up making one of the meals, highlight it so you remember that you still have the groceries to make it. Try to work it in to your next menu if you can.
Am I suggesting you go through every single one of these steps every time you plan your menu? No, but if you are really serious about sticking to the menu try these out. They will help! Some of it may seem a little overboard, but all the extra planning will help you out when preparing a grocery list-which I will be posting about on Friday. Happy Planning!