23 December 2013

Oh, For The Love of Meal Planning

Meal Planning 101

I truly love knowing in advance what to cook for dinner each night.  I like having all the ingredients in my pantry and fridge.  I like when everything is pre-chopped and right at my fingertips.  And of course I love cooking meals that are healthy and delicious for my family...BUT why is meal planning SO stinkin' hard? Right?  I mean you have to cut coupons to get the groceries, you have to write your list, you have to go grocery shopping, then you have to plan your meals.  I would love my own private chef and my own private assistant who goes food shopping once a week for me...hey while we are at it, can I have someone cut my coupons too?

December is almost over...and I am planning ahead now for my delicious and healthy meals for the month of January.  I felt January would be a great time to start anew.  In 2014 I really want to get my act together so that I can have even more time with my family and spend less time in the kitchen!

First Things First: What You Will Need

*Printing Out A Monthly Calendar
*Grab a few magazines with good recipes
*Get your favorite pen
*Grab a cup of coffee
*Get a pad for grocery list writing

Starting Anew

After I print out the month I am starting with (January) I block out the weeks by color and days of the week. We are very flexible on the weekend because Daddy cooks or we go out to eat, or we visit family so I really don't plan weekend meals unless a holiday or birthday falls on a Saturday or Sunday.

I choose the days that I have extra time to chop and cook for longer taking meals (Mondays, Wed., Fridays)  I choose super quick meals, or crock pot dinners for the nights or days that I know I need a short amount of time in the kitchen for prep. (Tues//Thurs).

Magazine or Pinterest Time

Then I gather some great recipes from my recipe box, magazines I love (Real Simple, Rachel Ray, Family Circle) or pinterest.  The internet or pinterest is a great source of ideas.  Especially if you want healthy meals. I have a healthy meal board that you can check out, a crock pot board, and yummy dinners.  Click on one or all three.

List Making Time

Then, after getting inspired, because let's face it, sometimes we need inspiration...you can start filling in your meals.  I am only going to do 1-2 weeks at a time.  I used to do monthly meal planning and I decided to bite off only what I can chew right now!

Here is my January calendar.

Planning the first week of January is easy because it's only 3 days! 

Wednesday: Tortellini Salad
Thursday: Grilled chicken and veggies

After you plan your meals you can make a list for the ingredients you need that are not in your fridge!  And do something new...try to make meals with items only in your pantry for a full week to use up lots of things before buying more!  It's a great way to save money, get creative, and clean out the pantry!

Happy Meal Planning!  When you plan ahead you leave extra time to spend with the people you love!


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