Friday, October 14, 2016

Meal Planning..... Simplified!

Happy Friday friends! Hard to believe we are halfway through October! Looking forward to a fun Fall weekend visiting Pumpkinville, another Bills win and of course-a trip to the grocery store!  So today I am sharing some tips on meal planning. I have been planning  our meals our for the past couple years and it has really made a difference. No more wondering "what's for dinner?" or do I have what I need to make that?  Taking a little time each week to plan it out can really reduce the stress over the dreaded dinner hour. Or at least it has in this family...hopefully it will help you too!

Meal Planning.......this is all abuzz over social media... #mealprep #sundaymealprep.....what does it mean? Why bother? Sounds complicated? A lot of other things I would rather do on a Sunday...

Does that sound like you? Because it sure was me! But then again, I was also guilty of a ton of food waste! I would wander the grocery store aisles with no plan, come home with a bunch of fresh food and then be upset because I had nothing to make for dinner. We would go out to eat a bunch during the week and then grocery shopping day came again and I would toss out all that fresh food that I let go to waste. This was ridiculous! I was busting the bank, and my waistline!

A couple years ago I decided I needed to rework my grocery shopping routine. It started with small changes and gradually grew to what it is today. I'm going to share how I got started meal prepping and how its helped our family. Here are a few tips on how to start....

Step 1 
Write out a list of some of your favorite meals. I sorted them by season..well because I like to be organized.  This way you'll have somewhere to start your planning. Just write out lists of favorite you wanted to try. Use cookbooks, Pinterest & magazines if you need some ideas.

Step 2
Plan a weeks' worth of meals. For me I usually shop somewhere between Friday and Sunday, so I plan my week on a Sunday- Saturday schedule. If you shop on a different day then adjust what works for you. I schedule in the meal based on the weeks activities and plan more labor intense meals on days I am off and simpler meals for days I travel for work.  Don't think of this menu as  "set in stone". If you need to move things around.. that's ok. The goal is to have a plan to use the food you have on hand.
Keep these will help you with future weeks...and I promise, each week will get easier than the last.  Another tip- hang this menu where the family can see it... it reduces the number of "Whats for dinner?" questions coming at you from everyone walking in the door!

Step 3
Write out your grocery list. For me I like this list to be organized too....I have "buckets" like produce, meat, dry, dairy, etc and list the needed items by category. I keep this list on the fridge so I can add things during the week as needed. It helps keep everyone on track as the kids know to add stuff to the list. I have a Target list too :)

Step 4
Go the the grocery store! Shop for whats on your list. End of story.

Except for when the store has fresh tulips...those always find their way to my cart.!

Step 5 
Take 30-45 minutes when you get home to prep what you can. I always prep veggies and fruit for easy snacks. I will usually chop any veggies I need for meals that week too.  It's not just need to take 30 minutes to do it. Be sure to have your kids help out here- they are perfect produce washers.....they can help portion into snack bags... and Ella is getting more comfortable in helping with cutting some veggies too. My kids are pretty eager to help with prep and it is a great chance to talk about healthy choices. They are usually munching on the stuff we are prepping! 
If your healthier food is prepped it makes it much easier to grab when you're hungry or to pack for lunches. Its much easier to put those peppers in the lunch box when they are chopped and ready.
Some staples we always have prepped and ready are peppers, carrots, cucumbers and a fresh fruit (usually melon or pineapple).  I have a basket in the fridge with apples, clementines and pears for snacks. I try to keep most of these prepped snacks at the kid's eye level in the fridge. It's known as "their shelf" and it's where they can choose a snack from when they are hungry. 
In this pic you see my "garbage bowl" on the left. I learned that tip from watching Rachel Ray's cooking shows years ago.  Makes prep quicker & easier!

I'll do a more detailed post on how I meal plan and give some examples of our week's menus soon. I hope you can use some of these tips this weekend if you are heading out to the grocery store. Next week I'll be sharing some of the fun from our weekend to visit Pumpkinville, a simple recipe for Butternut Squash Ravioli, and details on Ella's Hollywood themed birthday party! It was such a fun party! I hope you will join us....there's always room for one more at our Family Table.


1 comment :