January 29, 2014 by Marci
Does the question “What’s for dinner?” stress you out each day? Come up with a meal planning strategy and take the stress away!
Grocery shopping used to be the worst part of my week. It would take me an hour and a half criss-crossing the store trying to decide what sounded good to eat for the next week or so. I would get to the check out, pay too much money and realize I had nothing there for dinner that night. What a waste of time and money! No wonder I hated it so much!
Now, I don’t really mind getting the groceries, because I always have a plan going in.
Make A List
Instead of just aimlessly wandering the store, I go in with a list. The list I take to the store is actually made up of two lists.
One list comes off the magnetic list on the fridge. This is where I jot down staple items as I run out or notice I am getting low on them.
The other list comes from my menu. I sit down the evening before I go grocery shopping and make a menu of dinners and kids lunches for that week.
When I am planning my menus, I have the following items with me: a note book, pen, the grocery store sale ad, and a couple cookbooks or favorite recipes websites.
The notebook is for writing down the menu items and their ingredients that I don’t have on hand. I always check the grocery ads first. There is nothing more frustrating for me that to go to the store looking for a particular cut of meat or produce item only to learn they don’t have that this week or it is 3X what I thought I’d have to pay for it. So, I check to see what meat and produce is on sale and in stock and I base my menu off of that.
Cookbooks and recipe websites jog my memory when choosing dishes and help me to be sure I remember all the ingredients I need. I love to cook, so I am always searching my cookbooks for at least one new dish each week.
My menus are not set in stone. I don’t have each dish assigned to a particular night unless there is a special reason for it. I fix whatever menu item sounds good that day. For a week, I usually plan on 4 big meals, 2 leftover nights and a “throw it together night” or pizza. That works for us.
Benefits of Meal Planning
Making menus assures me that my family will be fed nutritious meals and that I won’t have to stress over what’s for dinner. It also assures me that I won’t overspend at the grocery store!
Not each meal has to be spectacular. However, I do feel that they need to be enjoyable, stress-free, and consistent. There is something very calming and uniting about sitting down with the family for a meal. The dinner table is a place and time where families can catch up on the day and learn about each other.
Do you plan your menu or do you do it on the fly? How are either working for you?