Do you ever find yourself in a panic, rushing around at the last minute to figure out your meal plan? Ever end up at the last minute deciding it’ll be a Ramen or take out kind of night? You’re not alone. Trust me! So many people have talked with me about the issues that often arise around whether or not they know what they’ll be eating each night. More often than not, most will say “We forget or wait until the last minute.”
My problem? By the time dinner rolls around, what I originally planned on cooking, no longer sounds appetizing: either to me or my husband. When this happens, it usually goes one of two ways; go to the store to grab an ingredient for a different meal, or its take out. Don’t get me wrong, I am a lover of all things organized, so of course I have meal plans; I just lack the self discipline to always stick to it. When I do, though, it makes everything go SO much smoother! I have a specific method I like to use that has proven itself “worthy” of use many times.
Here’s a glimpse at how it works:
What are your favorite meals? You know, those meals you love to cook the most. A casserole? Maybe you just have to have a burger every week. In my house, my husband and oldest son are taco junkies. They have to have taco (something) at least once a week. Whatever your favorites are, write them down. Don’t go over board, I mean you don’t want to end up eating the same exact thing every time you turn around. Do you? Here’s an example I use for this:
- Tacos- Boys favorite
- Burgers- My favorite
- Spaghetti- Kid & “Easy fix” favorite
- German Sausage Bake- Family “cold weather” favorite.
- Salad- Favorite “hot day” food.
Okay, note a few things from my list: everyone’s favorite is included, there’s an “easy fix” favorite. *Easy fix favorites, are for those nights when you don’t want to go to the store, but didn’t really think about dinner. Whatever your easy fix favorites are, make sure you always keep the ingredients stocked up and ready just in case. I think you can figure out the other two on your own. 🙂
Now that you’ve made your favorite’s list, plan to have one of those meals once a week for a month. You don’t want to give them up, but you also don’t want to end up making up something every night for a month. Unless, of course, you’re very creative in the kitchen and love taking massive or several, grocery trips. To you I say, “would you please come to my house and teach me something?!”
We all know there will be a night, or a few, in which dinner was forgotten; weather or busyness, kept us from going to the store or we just do not feel like cooking a big meal. For these nights, we go for quick and easy. Lately, those are some of my favorite meals. My real favorites are the one’s my husband cooks. He’s a great cook! I’ll show you a little of what some quick and easy go- to meals, look like for us:
- Spaghetti-Meat or no meat, with Garlic bread.
- Tuna Sandwiches-alone or with potato chips
- Fend-for-yourself-Ramen, hot dogs, Cereal (Does not happen often.)
- Breakfast for dinner-pancakes, eggs & toast; simple foods
Figure out the easiest, go-to meals for you. Write those down beside your favorites list. These two lists, are going to be your best friend. Add as many, or as few as you like. After all, it’s your meal plan.
While you’re at it, do some digging. Look through cookbooks, the internet, or even ask around for recipes you have never tried before. Is there a dish you’ve always wanted to make but never took the time? Add them to a separate list. Far too many resources are available, to not be able to try something new. Do your research and see what you come up with. Maybe your roommate, significant other or even a parent have a famous dish you could add to your menu. Sure, it takes time to do the research, but once you’ve finished this process, it should be relatively painless from here on out. Unless you’re like me and just really lacking in self discipline.
What do you have on hand now?
One of the best, most affordable ways to meal plan, is by taking inventory of what you currently have on hand. Can you make a meal from ingredients you already have? Is there something you have had for a while that needs to be used before it ends up covered in cob webs and tasting like cardboard?
There’s a fun little planning method I’ve seen many times that can be useful for this and in general. It goes something like this:
Tuesday-Tacos …or as I converted it; anything taco-ish (burrito, taco salad, etc.)
Wednesday-One pot (casserole, foil pack, crock pot, and so on)
Thursday-Try something new
Friday- Fend for yourself or Fix It Fast
Make it your own. Get creative yourself or with the members of your household. Don’t let meal time get overwhelming and boring.
Now that you have all the information, it’s time to put your meal plan into place. You can use a notebook or a calendar, or if you subscribe or are a subscriber and would like to receive printables, leave a comment with your name and I’ll send them your way! Here’s what you’ll get:
- Meal plan sheet ( make a few copies to hang on a clipboard, or just reprint as needed)
- Pantry Inventory Sheet
- Freezer/Fridge Inventory Sheet
- A Favorite Meals/Quick Fix Meals List
- A Recipes To Try List
- Grocery List
They are my gift to you. All I ask, is that if you do use them, please let me know how they work for you.
As always I am truly grateful for all of my readers; and your comments, likes and shares mean so much to me! Thank you for letting me help you uncomplicate the chaos in your life and being a part of the journey with me. I’d love to connect with you. If you have questions, or would like to share tips you have for meal planning, please leave a comment below. See you soon!