Anyone else ever get stuck in a cooking rut? When you seem to keep grocery shopping for the same things and, consequently, cooking the same meals. I look at other people’s groceries on the conveyor belts sometimes and think, wow, I bet they have great dinners! Meal planning is the best solution to a lack luster life in the kitchen. It’s difficult to discipline yourself to sit down, consider sales, find recipes, and think critically about the order of your meals. It’s easier to just hop in the car and go grocery shopping. But when we take the time, not only do we spice up our kitchen life, we also alleviate stress, and save money in the long run!
Learn How to Meal Plan
Are you with me, sister? Let’s climb out of that cooking rut and into a new chapter of your meal-making life! Here are 12 tips to help you meal plan like a pro.
First of all, realize the benefits of meal planning. If you know that the work is worth it, you’re more likely to integrate it into your life!
Decide if you want to do a weekly or a monthly meal plan:
The benefit of a weekly plan is that you can factor weekly sales into the plan!
The benefit of a monthly meal plan is that you’re set for a whole month and can repeat the same meal plan the next month!
It also helps to decide what your overall meal planning emphasis is! Meals on a budget? Gluten-free cooking? Clean-eating? Easy to make? Decide what your family’s needs are and shape the plan around them. If you can hone in on an emphasis, then there is probably a Pinterest post or a cook book that will fit you perfectly!
Set aside a specific time to make your plan, ideally just before grocery shopping. For the weekly plan, obviously do your planning before your usual grocery shopping. For the monthly plan, it’s a good idea to plan just before you do your bulk grocery shopping. Consider some menu planning apps to get you organized!
Or, go old-fashioned and put the pen to the paper. Here are some free meal planner printables for that!
Meal Planning Tips
Go with meals you’re good at. Your first week or month of meal planning should include mostly recipes your family already loves. Add in one new recipe every week or two if things are going well.
Try the theme approach to meal planning. What’s New Wednesday, anyone??
Stock your freezer up with foods while they’re on sale. This way, your meal planning won’t have to wait until you get an ad flyer in the mail. You just make the most of sales as they come along! Here are some great tips for properly freezing fruits and veggies!
Feed your freezer so that you can have one or two nights off every week while still having a home cooked meal. Do you have one night that is much busier than the rest? That’s a freezer/crockpot meal night. Do you prefer to work as little as possible for one day out of the weekend? That’s another freezer/crockpot meal night!
If you feel stuck, sometimes it helps just to see other people’s meal plans. Everyone else has to be eating something, why not find out what another family’s favorites are to get inspired?
See how other moms approach meal planning too. Chat with your friends. Share meals, swap recipes. What works for someone else might work for you too!
If you have an epic fail of a meal planning week, that’s okay, just try again next week. You can always get back on track with meal planning!